‘Everything is Gone’: Cultural Centers in Sudan Burned and Looted As Civil War Rages - The World News

‘Everything is Gone’: Cultural Centers in Sudan Burned and Looted As Civil War Rages

Last week the nonprofit Heritage for Peace published its findings on the state of Sudan’s cultural heritage in the midst of a civil war that began on April 15.

The report was put together by the nonprofit and Sudanese cultural workers and volunteers working with Heritage for Peace’s Sudan Heritage Protection Initiative. Researchers combed through evidence gathered by civilians, military organizations, and cultural workers and circulated on social media. The report shows that many museums, cultural centers and research centers have been looted, destroyed, or co-opted as a military base.

Related Articles

Smoke billows behind buildings from a reported fire in Khartoum, on June 5, 2023, as fighting continues between two warring generals. Multiple ceasefires have been agreed and broken between Sudan's regular army and paramalitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and Washington slapped sanctions on the leader of each side last week, blaming both for the "appalling" bloodshed. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple archives have been lost, including those maintained by The Mohamed Omer Bashir Centre for Sudanese Studies at Omdurman Ahlia University and The Abdul Karim Mirghani Center, which was in the process of digitizing their archive of labor movements in Sudan.

Reem Abbas, whose family donated the library collection of Abbas’s great-grandfather to the Mohamed Omer Bashir Centre ten years ago, lamented the loss in a Twitter post. “I am so angry,” Abbas wrote. “Everything is gone! […] This center has a huge archive and thousands of valuable books! I can’t believe this.”

The Performing Arts Theatre in el Geneina was burned down and both the Sultan Bahruddin Museum and the National History Museum in Khartoum have lost their collections to bombing.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, Sudan’s National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) are working together to organize a preservation strategy that could include evacuating artifacts.

“While there is a lot of awareness about cultural heritage and the need to protect it in times of crisis, one of our biggest challenges is that culture is still not mainstreamed into the language of humanitarian aid,” ICCROM’s Aparna Tandon told the AP.

Documenting damage to cultural institutions and sites that are at-risk is a pivotal effort during times of conflict, helping to create a database that can aid in the recovery of looted works and the evacuation or protection of at-risk institutions and their collections. As Ukraine faces record losses of cultural heritage, organizations like UNESCO and Poland’s Culture Ministry train civilians to document losses and compile lists of missing objects or artworks, something NCAM is hoping to replicate.

1.7 million Sudanese people have been displaced internally, while an additional 528,000 people have crossed borders to escape the war, according to a report by the United Nation’s Displacement Tracking Matrix.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *