More than 95% of the manuscripts evacuated from Timbuktu in time

For months, Malians from all layers of society have collaborated to evacuate centuries-old manuscripts from Timbuktu. The secret operation, which started with initial support of the Prince Claus Fund on 12 October 2012, was successful thanks to the trust between all parties involved: the Malian people, the Malian authorities, projectpartner SAVAMA DCI and international partners including the Prince Claus Fund, Ford foundation, private donors, DOEN Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

The Prince Claus Fund has been active in Mali for many years. Through local contacts the Fund was informed of the developments on the ground. In the beginning of October SVAMA DCI and a partner who wishes to remain anonymous warned that evacuation of the manuscripts had become inevitable. The Fund decided to support the evacuation. After the Fund’s initial support, other international organisations, governments and private donors decided to also support the evacuation.

Christa Meindersma, director of the Prince Claus Fund: “On the basis of trust in our local partners the Fund dares to take risks to save endangered cultural heritage. When militants openly threatened to destroy the manuscripts the evacuation had been ongoing for more than 3 months.”

Hundreds of Malians took great risks to evacuate the manuscripts. The manuscripts are valued for the knowledge they represent. The manuscripts show scholarly writing from a period of free thinking as far back as the 10th century when Timbuktu was an African centre of learning and trade. Malians are proud of these physical remnants of science and culture which play an important role in Malian society today.

Christa Meindersma: “The evacuation has shown that the manuscripts are of immense value to the Malian people. The manuscripts can play a constructive role in the peace process and be a driver of sustainable development in Mali.”

The volatile situation in Mali continues to pose a risk to the manuscripts. A collaborative effort is urgently needed to conserve, catalogue and protect the manuscripts so that they can be returned to Timbuktu as soon as possible.

The Cultural Emergency Response (CER) programme of the Prince Claus Fund gives emergency assistance to cultural heritage damaged or threatened by conflict or natural disaster. 

More than 95% of the manuscripts evacuated from Timbuktu in time

"taking risks to save endangered cultural heritage"

Christa Meindersma on Cultural Emergency Response Programmes

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Evacuation Manuscripts Timbuktu

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Evacuation Manuscripts Timbuktu

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Evacuation Manuscripts Timbuktu

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Evacuation Manuscripts Timbuktu

CER provides rapid and effective emergency relief for cultural heritage damaged or destroyed by man-made or natural disasters. Launched in 2003 in reaction to the looting and demolition of artworks from the National Museum of Iraq, CER believes that rescuing cultural heritage provides hope and consolation to affected communities and thereby contributes to restoring human dignity, continuity and a sense of identity. Culture is a basic need and cultural emergency relief should therefore be an integral part of humanitarian aid.

More than 95% of the manuscripts evacuated from Timbuktu in time

 
 
 
 

More than 95% of the manuscripts evacuated from Timbuktu in time

For months, Malians from all layers of society have collaborated to evacuate centuries-old manuscripts from Timbuktu. The secret operation, which started with initial support of the Prince Claus Fund on 12 October 2012, was successful thanks to the trust between all parties involved: the Malian people, the Malian authorities, projectpartner SAVAMA DCI and international partners including the Prince...