Amidst continued clashes between the Islamic State (IS) and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in West Mosul, residents of the city continue their journey to the camps set by the Iraqi Government outside the city. Many of them have harrowing tales of the group’s brutal treatment of the city and their lives.
One resident speaks of how every moment was dictated by the group’s strict laws, particularly relating to the dress-code enforced by the Hisba, the IS’ “morality police”. Indeed, residents were often restricted from many basic activities such as smoking or playing musical instruments under the group’s extreme interpretation of religious law.
Attempting to leave the city and seek refuge in the camps are often fraught with danger. The group severely punishes anyone who tries to leave their “Caliphate”. In a final act of spite, the group retaliates against those who have successfully left the city by looting their homes and setting them on fire. Many of the Moslawi people who fled to the camps will not have anywhere to return.
In the camps themselves, shortages abound and many of the former residents are reliant on handout of food and other supplies to support themselves and their families. Many of them would have nowhere to turn to without such support and they are afraid that the shortages will push them to desperate measures and criminality.
For the moment however, they are grateful at the ISF for liberating them from the IS and the support provided by the aid personnel to help them retain a modicum of normalcy. The return to Mosul and the subsequent reconstruction will be fraught with challenges. But the residents in the liberated parts of the city have shown that they want to put the terror of the IS behind them by rebuilding their homes and their lives.