During its 29th Session (Durban, 2005), the Committee expressed its concern over information concerning the grave threats that continue to endanger the buildings in the northern zone of the Island and urged the State Party to undertake urgent work in order to prevent their collapse and halt maritime erosion. In a report received in April 2006, the State Party informed the Centre that the following activities were being undertaken in order to improve the state of conservation of the property:
a) Restoration and rehabilitation works
Significant restoration and rehabilitation works had been undertaken for the following historic buildings: the City Hall, the Mosque, the Church, and the Henriette Bathily Museum for Women. Within the framework of the cooperation with the Walloon Region (Belgium), lime mortars and plasters were re-introduced through on-site-training activities and important conservation works had been carried out on buildings in a very serious state of deterioration. According to the State Party, 200 millions FCFA (i.e. Franc de la Communauté Financière Africaine)were invested in total in restoration works for the Island. 250 millions FCFA were also invested for the rehabilitation of two historic buildings, housing respectively a Clinic and a Cultural Centre.
b) Replica of Goree Memorial
The State Party informed the World Heritage Centre of its intention to implement appropriate corrective measures for limiting the negative impact of the replica of the Goree Memorial on the property. However, the State Party mentioned its concern about the possible negative consequences of the physical destruction of the replica which, if not properly carried out, might damage the structure of the Castel monument on which it is built. It has therefore requested support for an Expert mission to advice on the appropriate ways to implement these corrective measures.
c) Appointment of a site manager
The Ministry of Culture is in the process of appointing a site manager for the day-to-day management of the World heritage property. The Senegalese professional who has been identified is currently based full-time in the Island. With support from the Africa 2009 Programme, he is undertaking several training programmes in cultural heritage conservation and management.
ICOMOS and the WHC note that further work has been undertaken in view of the demolition of the Gorée Memorial Replica and do not consider that any expert mission is needed before destruciton is undertaken.
On 30 September 2005, UNESCO received a letter dated 28 September 2005 addressed to the Director General of UNESCO from his Excellency the President of Senegal, Mr Abdoulaye Wade. In his letter, the President informed the Director General of the severe coastal erosion problems facing Gorée Island as well as of the discussions he had had with H.E. the Emir of Qatar on the issue of Gorée during his visits to New York. The Director General was informed of the interest of Qatar to finance the coastal rehabilitation of Gorée with funds from the Qatar Foundation, under the patronage of Her Royal Highness the Queen of Qatar. In his response to the President, dated 4 October 2005, the Director General expressed the readiness of UNESCO to assist in the project in view of the interest accorded by the Organization to the historical significance of Gorée World Heritage Site, and further informed that UNESCO would undertake a mission to Qatar in order to concretize the modalities for the execution of the project.
On 8 November 2005, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Senegal confirming the interest of UNESCO to collaborate with both Member States in the framework of the project. Furthermore, on 30 March 2006, the Director General of UNESCO addressed a letter to Her Royal Highness the Queen of Qatar, whose Foundation will most likely sponsor the project, to inform her that he had designated a UNESCO official who would accompany to Qatar the Director of the Office of Architecture at the Presidential Palace of Senegal, to discuss the modalities of funding and implementation of the project.