The ruins of the great sea-ports of Kilwa Kisiwani and of Songo Mnara situated off the coast of the United Republic of Tanzania were inscribed yesterday on the List of World Heritage in Danger by the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which is holding its annual meeting in Suzhou until July 7.
The Committee took this decision in response to threats to the integrity of the site, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. The ruins, which date from the 13th to the 16th century and testify to the ports’ position as a hub of Indian Ocean trade in gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, Arabian crockery, Persian earthenware and Chinese porcelain, are particularly affected by sea erosion, lack of maintenance that is leading to the collapse of buildings, inadequate management and demographic pressure.
As the Committee decided to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, Portugal offered to provide the United Republic of Tanzania with assistance in preserving the site.
Three sites have been added to the Danger List during the 28th session: the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, the Cathedral of Cologne (Germany), and the Bam Cultural Landscape (Iran), which was inscribed on both World Heritage List and on the Danger List on July 2.
These latest inscriptions mean that a total of 35 of the 788 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List are also on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The inscription of properties on the Danger List constitutes a call to improve their safeguarding and is designed to rally national and international efforts for their preservation.