Aid & Development

Return of people to Old City of Mosul despite painful memories


The Old City of Mosul's infrastructure was heavily destroyed during the operations between the Iraqi Security Forces and ISIS militants.

Since being cleared of ISIS militants in July 2017, Mosul has witnessed significant reconstruction efforts aimed at restoring the city and allowing for the safe repatriation of its residents.

The University of Mosul, one of the most prestigious in Iraq, was subjected to looting and repeated attacks by ISIS militants during their occupation of the city. Since then, the university’s alumni and current students have worked together to restore the university and its resources. Furthermore, in the Arabi neighbourhood, the first mall has opened since the war. The mall, called Maxi Mall, is a positive sign of a return of economic activity in the city.

Despite the ongoing reconstruction, painful memories of the ISIS occupation and subsequent war are fresh in the minds of many residents. Although the return of some residents to the Old City is an attempt to move on from the horrors and tragedies of the war, many have returned to find their homes in ruins.

“The people of Bab Lagash have all gone, they’ve all been killed under the pretence of being apostates,” said Um Marwan, an elderly lady who returned to her home in Sarjkhana, west Mosul, said whilst recalling her memories of ISIS rule. The militants also murdered her eldest child.

Many people who remained in the Old City were forced to take shelter in basements. “If we left the house they would have killed us,” said Sa’ad, a Mosul resident, whilst recounting the five months his family spent hiding in perpetual hunger and fear.

The residents of Bab Lagash in Mosul’s Old City, as well as those in the neighbourhoods Bab al-Tob, Biden and al-Makawi, were used as human shields by ISIS militants as the battle for Mosul intensified. Iraqi Security Forces encircled the Old City and consequently condensed the battle into a small area of the city before defeating the last remaining militants.