City of Two Springs
Two starkly contrasted viewpoints on the life of Mosul after IS
Resurrecting a city turned to rubble is tough, for both the UN and the war devastated civilians. Mosul was liberated after three years under IS control. The battle against IS razed the city to the ground and displaced thousands, many of whom are now trying to return home. Told through the parallel stories of a young inhabitant, 11 year old Ala’, and a senior UN figure leading the international effort to rebuild the city.
UN officials meet with refugee camp coordinators to discuss stabilising cities in which IS have been defeated, so that Mohammed, Ala’ and others can finally return home. “The number of people who are being displaced and the pace of their displacement isn’t comparable to anything else in the world,” says Lise Grande, a UN Special Representative for Iraq. She estimates that the 202 stabilisation projects planned by the UN and authorised by the Iraqi government will cost 707 million.
Looking longingly at photos of a liberated Mosul, Ala’ is excited to return home. Doing so comes with significant risk, however, as Denimer, a representative of Mine Action Group, explains. Sweeping Mosul for explosives planted by ISIS, they have found hundreds of disguised devices. “This is just a vacuum cleaner, but right here is a micro switch,” he explains. “When people reinhabit their houses, they would pick it up and it would detonate. This is one of the biggest killers we have.”
“We’re going back. Back!” Ala’ exclaims happily. Luckily her return to Mosul is successful, and her house undamaged. The UN meets with local people in Mosul and explains to them that their stabilisation projects have been unable to begin because “Iraqi officials wanted the contracts to go to their friends and companies”. “As far as I am concerned,” one Iraqi responds, “corruption here is a war crime. Why doesn’t the international community try these corrupt politicians?”
Eventually, the UN is able to agree with donors and the Iraqi government on implementing their projects. “I especially want to thank the UN during the opening of this palace of wisdom” a university director says, celebrating their achievements in the area. Ala’ and her father attend the Festival of Spring together before finally going about planting the garden she has dreamed of. “The flowers will be as tall as you!” she jokes.