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Mosul Journal: After Fall of ISIS, Iraq’s Second-Largest City Picks Up the Pieces

December 10, 2017

Around 600,000 people remain displaced, and approximately 60,000 homes are uninhabitable. The city’s business and government sectors are crippled, with at least 20,000 commercial and government buildings destroyed, according to aerial images commissioned by the United Nations.

The west side in particular sustained apocalyptic damage. It took six months of grinding street-by-street battles and aerial bombardment to free the area, including the labyrinthine Old City, where the militants made their last stand.

“Mosul is a tale of two cities,” said Lise Grande, the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq and head of the United Nations Development Program. “In east Mosul, more than 95 percent of people are home. On the west side, it’s a completely different picture. Yet people are rolling up their sleeves and determined to get their lives back.”

Since the summer, the international community has spent about $400 million to help restore electricity, water and medical services, and donor countries, along with the Iraqi government, are struggling to create and finance a comprehensive multibillion-dollar redevelopment plan.

In the interim, Muslawis — as Mosul residents are called — have mustered their own resources and philanthropic spirit to breathe new life into the city.

The highways leading to Mosul are clogged with flatbed trucks bringing in commercial goods and construction materials. On both sides of the river, gleaming rows of washing machines, space heaters and children’s bikes are for sale. Restaurants, especially those with family sections, are doing a roaring business.

On Nov. 30, a Mosul nonprofit organized a marathon and shorter foot races for children, an event that drew around 4,000 people.

Marathon draws thousands in Iraq’s devastated MosulVideo by AFP news agency

“We are excited to change the atmosphere of Mosul,” said Feras Khalil, an engineer supervising the reconstruction of Fountain Square, a park along a main commercial street on Mosul’s east side. “We want to give the opportunity for our neighbors to breathe fresh air after defeating Daesh,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

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On the east side, the sprawling Mosul University campus hums with activity from the 30,000 students — men and women — who are attending classes this fall. Hundreds of students from other parts of Iraq have also re-enrolled, a testament, they say, to their parents’ confidence about security.

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