Africa Attains Three New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

During its 40th session, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to add three sites in Africa to its list

July 26th, 2016
Gaspard Fontaine, CD News

Out of the 21 sites that UNESCO added to its list of world heritage sites this year, three of them are located in Africa, one in Chad and two in Sudan. These additions highlight the cultural and natural richness of the continent; although Africa still lags behind in term of recognized sites.

The Ennedi Massif, in the northeast of Chad, has been added to the list as both a natural and a cultural site. Erosion sculpted the canyons and valleys over millions of years making the area an exceptional site. But the beauty of the Ennedi Massif does not only come from nature. Man, through thousands of images painted and carved into the rocks, has given the place an invaluable cultural dimension.

The other African country to have sites entering the UNESCO list is Sudan, with the Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park. Those two natural sites host beautiful coral reefs and huge marine biodiversity.

Through the international recognition of their historical and cultural patrimony, Chad and Sudan should expect to see many interested tourists, if the security conditions allow it, and therefore a boost to their national economies.

Moreover, inclusion of the Ennedi Massif in Chad on the UNESCO list should bring more attention from the scientific community, specifically those researching the dawn of man. “We are talking about a human presence which lasts at least 7,000 years. The majority of the imagery describes the relationship between humans, wildlife and domestic animals. It shows clothes, jewellery, weaponry and habitats”, said Edmond Moukala, head of the Africa Unit in the UNESCO World Heritage.

The inclusion of these sites on the UNESCO list, is not only a victory for Chad and Sudan but also for the entire continent as Africa’s sites are still largely under represented on that list. In the continent, 90 sites are on the list, representing only 9% of the world total.

In addition, UNESCO has added five Libyan sites to the list of endangered world heritage sites. After the destruction of the Timbuktu mausoleums in Mali by jihadists in 2012 and the destruction of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria by the Islamic State, the UNESCO wants to draw attention to the situation in Libya, which could result in the destruction of other very important cultural sites.


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