Residents of Mosul Old City try to bring life back to their neighbourhoods

The 9 month military campaign to liberate Mosul from the clutches of ISIS caused unprecedented damage to the city. The intense fighting along with ISIS’ scorched earth policies decimated whole neighbourhoods and left many parts of the city without the most basic infrastructure and public services. The most heavily damaged part of the city was the Old City.

The Old City is considered one of the most compact areas in Mosul and it bore the brunt of the most intense street-to-street battles that took place in the city in the last few months of the fighting. This part of Mosul is home to some of the most valuable monuments and heritage sites in the whole country including the Grand Nuri Mosque and the leaning Hadbaa minaret, which the militants callously destroyed.

The liberation of Mosul has spurned residents of Iraq’s cultural capital to begin reviving parts of the city that were suppressed for years by the extremist group. Ordinary people have taken it upon themselves to clean their neighbourhoods and schools and restart their businesses. Shops have reopened and markets have sprung to life as Moslawis try to live their lives normally again.

Volunteers have launched an extensive campaign to clear out the debris that has been left behind as a result of the destruction caused by the battle. Some have even rented equipment including bulldozers, pickup trucks, cranes and excavators to help carry out the rebuilding work.

Despite these positive signs of revival, there are large-scale challenges that must be overcome before life truly begins to return. According to the UNDP’s Iraq Representative, Lise Grande, of the 54 residential districts in western Mosul, 15 were heavily damaged, 23 moderately damaged and 16 neighbourhoods lightly damaged. Additionally, 80% of the city’s infrastructure has been decimated, including bridges, water infrastructure and electricity.