Dancing and music fill the parks and streets this spring in the liberated areas of Mosul as citizens enjoy their liberation for the first time in two and a half years. A sense of normality has returned to the lives of these once oppressed and besieged peoples. Safety and security has now prevailed, and with it comes, the chance for people to restart their lives.
As more areas become liberated, more will have the opportunity to rebuild their lives. Thousands of people per day escape militant-controlled territories or are liberated by Iraqi forces. Many of these people seek immediate medical attention and eventually reunite with family members and find refuge in other parts of the city.
Smiles are on the faces of both young and old as they get together for Friday picnics in the parks and communal areas of eastern Mosul. Due to restrictions put upon the city by ISIS militants, picnics and similar activities were very rare. One Moslawi speaks on his experiences saying that “during the ISIS era, there were no trips and no picnics. But now in general everyone is equal”.
Although citizens are living better than there are still problems. Water and food are still scarce and a crippling refugee crisis still looms, with many thousands of people are still displaced and separated from their friends and families.
Despite these challenges, however, there is cause for optimism. “After two and a half years, people are tired of repression, deprivation and suffering because of ISIS,” says one citizen and adds that “now thanks to God and the liberation, and thanks to the armed forces, life has returned to normal and the smiles have returned to the faces of the children”.
There is still much to be accomplished, but for those who are finally liberated they can enjoy this new found sense of freedom and calm.