Sudan Museum Authorities protest the mass looting of their cultural heritage. Overall, there are many complications when it comes to the political situation in Sudan. Clashes between the army and paramilitary formations are ongoing. This means that some activities no longer function normally, including the protection of museums and cultural heritage. Because of this, art robberies became common.
Sudan Museum Authorities Say Museums are Without Guard and Unprotected
As previously mentioned, this conflict affects Sudanese museums. Many artists and experts from the world of art expressed a plea for the protection of cultural heritage. The International Council of Museums presented Sara Abdalla Khidir Saeed’s research about recent events. The report also shows in what position the museums are. Saeed is director of the Sudan Natural History Museum.
“Museums are now without guard to protect them from looting and vandalism”, Saeed said. “In light of the daily deteriorating situation due to the lack of food and life resources, weak souls will be exploited to steal [artifacts from] important museums and smuggle them out of the country”. She also said many important museums are in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum.
This list includes the Sudan National Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Republican Palace Museum, and the Sudan Natural History Museum. The biggest damage hit the national museum with the Nubian collection, which dates back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic era. Modern day Sudan was an important turning point for early African kingdoms. That is why the preserved artifacts are extremely important for a complete understanding of the history of this country.
The Background of the Conflict and Its Consequences
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Khalid Albaih, a Khartoum-based artist and journalist also spoke about recent situation. He said the museum became a battleground and that no one knows how much damage the [National Museum] took. The clashes started in mid-April. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (military ruler) and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo are key in this conflict and in the struggle for power. Dagalo is a member of a paramilitary group.
Following the overthrow Sudan’s longtime president, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019, the two men shared power in a shaky fashion as partners. But, everything fell through in 2021. The army’s dissolution of the power-sharing government dashed civilian aspirations for a peaceful transition to democracy. At least 860,000 individuals fled from Sudan to nearby nations.
Since the conflict began, no one has access to the national museum. It contains Nile crocodiles, rare birds… Since no one visits them, they may die out. The [Museum] is located close to the Sudanese army’s headquarters, which means anyone walking around will be shot immediately as was the case with one of the university students.