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National Museums of Somalia and Somaliland

Due to the still ongoing Somali civil war, Somali museums in Mogadishu and Hargeysa suffered a severe looting of entire collections. Furthermore, post-conflict Somaliland still lacks museums. Potential collection and artefact repatriation projects as well as archaeological rescue projects are extremely challenged by this lack of storage and research space. Museum development processes remain halted also by lack of vital resources, infrastructure and national antiquities laws.

The fact that Somaliland is lacking a museum at the moment contributes to the disappearance heritage. Museums are needed as storage, display, research, public education and activity centres. The material that is excavated or acquired in other ways should be safely kept in a protected space.

Locating Somali antiquities collections

Since early 20th century, Somali heritage has dispersed due to, among other things, lack of protection and storage facilities. Some of the work being planned by the Department of Antiquities includes locating Somali artefacts and archaeological material currently held outside Somali territories. Such material is held outside Somalia and Somaliland by various research and teaching institutions, as well as private collections. The department of antiquities is aiming to start the process of identifying and subsequently cataloguing these foreign based collections, in cooperation with the various keepers of these museum and research collections.

Current repatriation campaigns for looted artefacts

In 2007, Ms Mire initiated the repatriation of stolen antiquities to the local communities of relevant areas of Somaliland. Mire appointed community members as the custodians of sites in their areas of settlement. This local involvement in cultural heritage protection enabled the repatriation of stelae previously stolen from burial sites near Buroe. The work involved tracing the items and bringing them back to the community of the settlement outside Buroe. Through a local campaign by Sada Mire and Mohamed Ali Abdi of the Department of Antiquities, the elders of the village were notified about the loss of the stelae. They were made aware of the significance of the stelae, and this led to the elders taking up a search of the stelae. The stelae were on their way to Boosaso to be shipped to the Gulf and to be sold on the black market, but the alerted elders found the stelae and brought them back to the community.

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