The largest and longest urban battle fought anywhere in the world since World War II was waged to retake Mosul from ISIS. Liberty came at a horrific price: Thousands of civilians were killed and large swathes of the Iraqi city were reduced to rubble.
Much of East Mosul was spared, but the West still lies in ruins a year after the end of the fighting. As I stood there, it felt as if the guns fell silent only yesterday.
If we’ve learned anything from the last decade in the Middle East and Afghanistan, it is that if a military “win” is not followed by effective help to ensure stability, then the cycle of violence only continues.
You’d think, therefore, that nothing could be more important in this situation than trying to make sure that violent extremism can never return to Mosul. You’d expect that rebuilding a city that was an icon of diversity, peaceful coexistence and cultural heritage would be a top priority. You’d imagine that the streets of West Mosul would be crammed with reconstruction equipment, de-miners, architects, planners, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations and world heritage experts providing technical assistance to Iraq on a master plan for the reconstruction of the city.
But a year later, West Mosul lies abandoned, ruined and apocalyptic. Walls that remain standing are riddled with holes from mortar fire and bullets. The streets are eerily quiet: hundreds of thousands of former residents of the city are living in camps or nearby communities because there is nothing for them to go back to. Reeking corpses still litter the ruins, awaiting collection.
In streets that look entirely uninhabitable, small numbers of shell-shocked families are clearing the rubble of their homes with their bare hands, braving the concealed explosives left behind. In the last week, there was an explosion in a house that killed and injured 27 people.
Angelina met up with Safin Dizayee who is Kurdistan Regional Government’s Spokesperson, more information about the meeting below.
The UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, along with UNCHR’s senior team in Iraq, visits Erbil and is received by H.E. Safin Dizayee, the KRG’s Spokesperson and the chief of staff of the KRG’s Prime Minister.
Safin Dizayee, on behalf of the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and KRG, welcomed the delegation and thanked Ms. Jolie for her continued attention to the misery of the displaced people hosted in Kurdistan Region. He said that the KRG appreciates her continued visits to Kurdistan to closely see the situation of the internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian Refugees in Kurdistan Region.
Mr. Dizayee briefed the delegation about the current situation in the Kurdistan Region including the humanitarian crisis of the IDPs and refugees, the economic, financial crisis and the aftermath of ISIS war and its impact on the entire communities as well as the role of the Peshmerga forces in fighting the ISIS during the last four years. Additionally, Mr. Dizayee highlighted the KRG’s humanitarian policy and the importance of more cooperation and coordination between the KRG, UN-Agencies and international community to support and provide better civic services to the displaced people.
Ms. Jolie thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government and the People of Kurdistan for hosting such a large number of the displaced people and continuing to support them. She said that the Kurdistan Region has played a very good role in supporting these vulnerable people and is a model for this kind of humanitarian assistance.
She assured the KRG that she will continue to convey the plight of the displaced people to the attention of the international community to encourage more support to Kurdistan Region.
Then, both sides, exchanged views and ideas on how to strengthen cooperation and coordination between KRG, UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to build back the life of displaced people better before the buildings. UNHCR and KRG agreed to continue such dialogue to find creative initiatives beyond material support to assist the displaced people until the conditions are met so that they return to their place origin voluntarily with respect and dignity.
Currently Kurdistan Region is hosting 1.4 million IDPs and Refugees; 97% of the Syrian refugees in Iraq in which 37% live in 9 camps while others live in the host communities and 40% of the internally displaced Iraqis, whom 81% live with the host communities and the rest live in 30 camps across the region.
Angelina went to the Domiz Camp, set in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq close to the border to Syria. She meet refugees who lives in the camp and she held a press conference which you can view in the video below.
The world is failing to properly invest in the Syrian refugee crisis and families, women, and children are suffering terribly as a result, UN refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie says.
The Hollywood actress was visiting the Domiz Camp, in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is home to 33,000 Syrian refugees displaced by seven years of civil war.
Funding received by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help refugees from the Syrian conflict fell sharply this year from 2017 when the agency received only 50 per cent of the funds it needed, Jolie told a news conference on Sunday.
“There are terrible human consequences. When there is even not the bare minimum of aid, refuge families cannot receive adequate medical treatment. Women and girls are left vulnerable to sexual violence, many children cannot go to school, and we squander the opportunity to invest in refugees,” she said.
Angelina Jolie visits Mosul, urges world not to forget the people of the city and warns of the danger of delay in reconstruction and recovery
UNHCR Special Envoy meets families who survived years of terror and displacement and who are now striving to rebuild their homes and lives.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie today visited West Mosul, less than a year after the city’s liberation in June and July 2017. The visit marked Jolie’s 61st mission – and her fifth visit to Iraq – with the UN Refugee Agency since 2001. She arrived in the city on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Jolie walked among the bombed-out buildings that line the narrow streets of the Old City and met displaced families to discuss efforts to rebuild the city and the needs of the returning population.
West Mosul was held captive by ISIS for three years. The combat operation to re-take the city was the largest and longest urban battle since World War II, and the wreckage reminiscent of Dresden. Civilians faced aerial bombardment, artillery barrage, cross-fire, snipers, and unexploded ordnance. Hundreds of thousands of people were subjected to siege-like conditions, used as human shields or targeted as they fled the city. Large swathes of West Mosul were flattened. Many residents are now slowly returning, to scenes of complete destruction. Like residents of other former ISIS strongholds, they have suffered nearly unprecedented levels of psychological trauma.