'First-aid' needed for 5,000-year-old Somali cave paintings

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Prehistoric paintings of antelope, snakes and giraffes that have survived for around 5,000 years are now under threat from looting and a lack of protection.

The rock paintings, which include renderings of dogs and sheep as well as human figures, were discovered at Dhambalin, in a unique sandstone shelter close to the Red Sea in Somaliland, a breakaway state from war-torn Somalia.

They were found by Dr. Sada Mire in 2007, in what she says was first ever survey initiated and led by a Somali archaeologist in the region. Since then, Mire has discovered 100 cave and rock art sites across Somaliland, but they need desperately to be preserved.

But Somaliland is in need of help and infrastructure to safeguard its ancient heritage.

Although it declared independence from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland is not internationally recognized as a separate state. This means that its sites cannot be granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.

According to Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture, Somalia is one of the few member states not to have ratified its 1972 World Heritage Convention, meaning that its sites are not eligible for World Heritage status....

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