The defeat of ISIS in Mosul in July 2017 left the city devastated, with many of its residents, displaced, dead or injured. While the exact number of casualties is unknown, estimates range between 9,000 and 11,000 killed, during the militant group’s three-year occupation. The militant group committed heinous crimes against the residents of Mosul, amongst them the Zanjili and Khafsa Massacres. Civilians were also affected by the liberation operations, as the clashes between ISIS and the Iraqi Security Forces backed by the International Coalition, took place in congested neighbourhoods in the Old City of Mosul.
“My kids and I were near the door. I came to open it, and then a strike occurred. They took us directly to the Republican Hospital,” said Adel, a resident of West Mosul who lost his leg in an attack. “My daughter died when we got there, and my son died while we were being transported.” After the liberation operations ended, Adel returned to his home unable to work and be self-sufficient due to his disability.
During the three years of ISIS’ invasion, over 6 million Iraqis were displaced from their homes, with over 4 million returning after the fighting came to an end in December 2018. However, many of the returnees found that their areas lack basic services including water. In addition to these poor conditions, returnees to the city of Mosul are also threatened by the over 11 million tonnes of debris scattered throughout the city.
The UN Mine Action Services (UNMAS) estimates that over 8 million tonnes of explosive material are still found beneath the rubble of Mosul alone. According to UNMAS, this will take over ten years to remove as some of the unexploded materials are International Coalition missiles which weigh over 230 kilograms are buried 15 meters below ground.
As a result, many locals still feel threatened by the situation. They call upon Iraqi and International Organisations to help rehabilitate their cities so that they can return safely.