Report by Dr. Thomas Schuler

28 June 2012

By Dr. Thomas Schuler

NOTE: This is a summary of a report by Dr. Thomas Schuler, President of the ICOM Disaster Relief Task Force.

Since the very beginning of the Malian crisis, ICOM “Disaster Relief Task Force” has been monitoring the situation in northern Mali very closely. We also acted on behalf of our umbrella organisation “Blue Shield”; therefore we didn’t focus on museums only, but included also libraries and monuments.

After sevaral watch lists, on May 16 we have edited our first comprehensive internal report (26 p.).
The following text is a short summary of the major heritage damages and threats.

Manuscripts: Safe!!

We talk about ten thousands of medieval mauscripts in more than 50 bigger and smaller libraries in Timbuktu. They are of exceptional heritage value for all Africa and the Islamic world.

Thanks to owners’s initiatives and to the protection by rebel forces and civilians, there has been no thefts reported so far. But the very dangereous security situation is going to continue.

Hiding manuscripts somewhere in cellars or in desert sand may prevent theft, but it implies great conservatory risks. Also the air conditioned library magazines are theatened by power outages or breakdowns to be forseen due to fuel shortage.


All museums in Timbuktu are safe.

We have no information on the important “Regional Museum of the Sahel” in Gao; it is the second oldest museum in Mali.


No information available.

World Heritage Sites

Mali has four World Heritage Sites:
- Two of them (Timbuktu and Gao) are situated in the rebel dominated areas.
- Bandiagara is about 300 km south of the “new border”, i.e. safe at the moment.
- Djenné is out of reach for rebels for the time being.

Damages and threats to monuments

1) Serious destruction
- Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar (part of WHS) in Timbuktu
- Monument Al Farouk in Timbuktu
- Monument of Gina Dogon in Douentza

2) Some damages
- Churches in Timbuktu

3) Serious threats
- This Monday the Tomb of Askia in Gao (WHS) was seriously threatened. The first Islamist attack has been successfully stopped by a human chain of residents.

  • Comments: 0


  1. E A M Harris’s avatar
    E A M Harris 09/07/2012 #

    These extremists seem intent on damaging anything that others consider important. I congratulate everyone in Timbuktu for protecting the manuscripts so far and hope they continue to be able to.

  2. Graham Dominy’s avatar
    Graham Dominy 14/07/2012 #

    This is a tragic situtation, but the only bright light is the engagement of the citizens of Timbuktu in protecting their heritage on behalf of the world, Those of us who have been there and worked there and respect Timbuktu and its multiple meanings for the world should rally to protect them.

  3. Mahmoud’s avatar
    Mahmoud 08/09/2012 #

    that I am the voice of one crying in the wiedsrnels: Make straight the way of the Lord. Jesus ever say that he have to leave us, so the Holy Spirit could come into us. To get an full understand of him, Get a relationship with in and study the word for yourself, He is the true living God and savior.

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