The people of Sudan face an increasingly perilous situation following the outbreak of civil armed conflict in April 2023. Our primary concerns are humanitarian, and we call for solidarity with the people of Sudan, including its library and information workers – those still in the country and those who have been forced to flee.

The destruction of any type of cultural property or memory institution is a serious loss to humanity. IFLA expresses grave concern at reports emerging from Sudan regarding the destruction of libraries and archives, including those located in universities, research centres, and private homes, as well as the theft of their collections.

We are deeply saddened by reports on the destruction of the Mohamed Omer Bashir Center for Sudanese Studies, a library at Omdurman Ahlia University, which was destroyed by fire in May 2023. The loss of one of the most significant repositories of Sudanese history and culture, including rare books, handwritten manuscripts, and historical documents, is a shocking tragedy.

IFLA calls for all parties to uphold international human rights law concerning the protection of cultural property. We recognise the rich manuscript tradition in Sudan, and call for documentary heritage to be included in cultural property protection and counter-theft and trafficking efforts.

IFLA recalls the obligations of all national governments to protect moveable cultural heritage under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.

IFLA is working in coordination with UNESCO and other international partners to monitor the situation as it develops and raise concerns for Sudan’s libraries and library workers at the international level.

Barbara Lison
IFLA President 2021-2023

Sharon Memis
IFLA Secretary General