Mausoleums, mosques and libraries destroyed by Islamic jihadists in Mali will be repaired with the help of CHF1 million ($1 million) from Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has confirmed.
Fourteen of the 16 mausoleums listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in Timbuktu, a city on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, were destroyed during the occupation of the area between March 2012 and January 2013.
Reconstruction of the area is expected to cost $11 million. So far $3 million has been pledged by Norway, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Croatia, Mauritius, Andorra and Switzerland – with Switzerland being the major contributor.
Four of the 14 destroyed mausoleums have been reconstructed. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, expects reconstruction of the remaining ten mausoleums to be finished by the end of July.
In addition to rebuilding the mausoleums, private libraries will be rebuilt and the old manuscripts they contain will be restored.
“Whoever destroys a mausoleum destroys history,” said UNESCO’s representative in Mali, Lazare Eloundou Assomo, in an interview with Radio France International. The reconstruction gives the people of Timbuktu their dignity back and contributes to peace, he said.
The project will also contribute to the region economically: local masons will be among 140 craftsmen hired.
swissinfo.ch and agencies