The nightmare of ISIS and the dreams of those displaced

In his living room in the Jordanian city of Ma’arib, Saad sits with his family watching TV. He is one of over 800,000 people who have been displaced as a result of the fighting in Mosul, and one of over 250,000 Iraqi refugees displaced to neighbouring countries.

His two children sit with him watching news scenes from Mosul. Most snippets from the city revolve around destruction, displacement and the fighting. As he watches, he holds his sibha or prayer beads, his only possession that survived with him from Mosul. He left everything else back in the city when he fled.

In light of the near complete demise of ISIS in Mosul, Saad hopes that the future for his children will be brighter, and one laden with opportunity not violence and hardship. Jordan is the second country after Iraq to which he has moved. Yet, he is unsure if he will ever return to Iraq given what happened and hopes to move on to a third country in the near future.

“We hope to leave to any other country,” says Saad, “to ensure the future of our children”.

For many IDPs and refugees, security and stability are among the most important factors of returning to Mosul. Despite the expulsion of ISIS from Mosul, the establishment of full-scale security infrastructure and stability in a city that ISIS ruled for three years will be a gradual process.

Along with Saad, Nemir is another refugee living in Jordan. He is one of the many painters who use art as a medium of expressing hardship suffered under ISIS. For some this also includes recreating sculptures damaged by ISIS, while for others it is to promote unity and cohesion. For Nemir, however, it is a outlet to paint a ‘tree of life’, which highlights the battle between good and evil, and the demise of the latter.

As with Saad, Nemir also wants to emigrate from Jordan to another country, but only if stability does not return to Mosul. However, for most Moslawis displaced by the fighting, a desire to return to their homes is strengthening as ISIS militants are not only gradually removed from Mosul and Nineveh Province, but also from the rest of Iraq itself.