Once inhabited by al-Qaeda and ISIS, people from the city of Ramadi in western Iraq's Anbar Province are now rebuilding their homes and schools.
In February 2016, the ISF announced that the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western Anbar Province, had been fully liberated from ISIS’ militants. This battle signalled a turning point for the battle against the militant group.
Following the liberation of the city of Ramadi, the city’s infrastructure and buildings were destroyed due to the operations against ISIS. According to observers, the militant group destroyed dams, bridges and houses as they were retreating from the city, to prevent the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) from advancing towards their locations.
As a result, the Iraqi Government and other organisations declared Ramadi a devastated city with estimates that range from 60%-90% of the city’s infrastructure destroyed.
Following the liberation operations, the city, which had been a hotspot for al-Qaeda and other jihadists, who used the city as a base for their insurgency, needed complete rehabilitation due to the damage that had accrued since 2003. This prompted the Iraqi Government and international organisations to begin the rehabilitation process of the city’s infrastructure. While the rehabilitation process was prolonged in the beginning due to the ongoing operations that the Iraqi Government waged against ISIS in other provinces, the reconstruction efforts began to speed up following December 2017.
Now citizens say many schools, dams and streets have been rehabilitated, which has allowed them to resume a sense of normalcy in their lives that were destroyed by ISIS.
“Today, we see rehabilitation taking place,” said Thaer al-Mawla, a citizen of Ramadi. “The city of Ramadi has become better than before after the reconstruction of roads, streets, and infrastructure. A modern commercial mall will be built within the city of Ramadi as well as some bridges.”
Some citizens stressed the need for reconstruction due to the critical role that Ramadi played against the defeat of ISIS.
“We ask the countries of the world and neighbouring countries to come to Iraq, in general, and Ramadi, in particular, to invest because Ramadi has defended the whole world, not just Iraq,” said Hameed al-Fahdawi, another resident.
While the city is still in need of further reconstruction, citizens say that their situation is improving day after day, with hopes of the city will one day fully revive from the problems that it has faced.