The President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, today condemned the attacks which have damaged historic mausoleums in northern Mali.
“[Mr. Al-Nasser] condemns the attacks on the mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Mokhtar and Alpha Moya in Timbuktu,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson. “He stresses the necessity of preserving Mali’s cultural and historical heritage.”
Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels resumed in northern Mali in January. The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in that region, and a deepening crisis due to a coup d'état in March, have uprooted nearly 320,000 people, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring countries.
“The President of the General Assembly urges all parties concerned to refrain from any violent acts and resort to dialogue and peaceful mediation,” the statement said, adding that he reiterates his support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the UN in restoring peace and security in Mali.
The attacks on the ancient sites were also condemned over the weekend by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova.
According to UNESCO, Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. The 17-metre high pyramidal structure of the Tomb of Askia was built by the Emperor of Songhai in 1495, and bears testimony to the power and riches of the empire that flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries through its control of the trans-Saharan trade.
Last Thursday, the World Heritage Committee accepted the request of the Government of Mali to place Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.
The list is designed to inform the international community of threats to the outstanding universal values for which a property has been inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.
The Committee will join Mali’s culture minister to appeal for the preservation of heritage in the country during a special event to be held tomorrow in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, where the Committee is currently holding its 36th session.