UNESCO places Mali heritage sites on endangered list

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The three great mosques of Timbuktu

Conflict between Tuareg rebels and government forces in the north of Mali has led to two of the country's historic sites being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia are now on the list which seeks to protect cultural sites from threats caused by armed conflict, war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching and other harmful practices.

The list is maintained by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and also includes national parks as well as ruins from ancient civilizations.

Dianne Penn reports.

The World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has accepted the Malian government's request to put the two sites on the endangered list.

Timbuktu, traditionally a centre of learning, is home to three great mosques, while the Tomb of Askia is believed to be the burial site of one of the great emperors of the Songhai Empire which existed during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Committee has urged the African Union and the international community to help protect these locations.

It has also asked Mali's neighbours to do all they can to prevent trafficking in cultural items from the two sites.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration:  40″

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