Earlier this month President Hollande of France visited cultural heritage sites in northern Mali including the mausoleums of Timbuktu and the city’s fabulous collection of manuscripts to launch the process of reconstruction and safeguarding of Mali sites. The visit also included a tour of the Ahmed Baba research center, where some 40,000 of the manuscripts are stored. It is estimated that over 2000 of the manuscripts were burnt by the Islamist militants before the French troops freed the city. An estimated 300,000 manuscripts are kept in private and public collections in Timbuktu. Many of them date from the 13th to 16th centuries and were produced by great scholars from the city and elsewhere or came from the ancient markets of North Africa, and the eastern-most countries of the Arab region. The director-general of UNESCO accompanied President Hollande and promised a full mobilization of resources to ensure assistance by UNESCO.
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