The liberation of west Mosul has allowed the reconstruction and re-location efforts to begin. Many thousands of families who were trapped under ISIS and forcibly displaced around the country are getting ready to return back home from distant parts of Iraq such as Najaf.
Although it will be a while until the city returns to normal, basic provisions need to be put into place, such as the rebuilding of schools, hospitals, homes and roads. Then the return of state personnel such as hospital staff, teachers, and police officers all need to be reinstated and paid. The fabric of society will then reform and mesh once again.
The prospect of returning home is an exciting yet simultaneously daunting one. Some Moslawis have been away from their city since before the violence and combat began, while others have witnessed the violence play out in front of them so will be more ready to accept and deal with what they see when they return. All, however, will be hoping for a more stable and safe life now that ISIS has been banished.
For the children, the shock of this destruction and devastation to their towns and neighbourhoods will hit them among the hardest. Some of their peers have either died or were recruited by ISIS when they first entered the city in 2014. Seeing the remnants of their town will take a long time to accept, although the joy of being in school again for the next school year will be something they and their parents will both be looking forward to.
The Ministry for Migration and Displacement has talked about the return of more than 1500 families out of more than 14,000 families who fled to Najaf in 2014, mostly from the province of Nineveh. All of these families need to be processed and recorded before they are allowed to leave Najaf. Authorities are cautious not to allow too many families to leave at the same time as this will put undue strain and pressure on the reconstruction efforts.
This first batch of returnees is a positive step forward for the country as it demonstrates reliance in the people and a confidence in government efforts that are trying to get those effected back to normal life.