SEATTLE — UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited West Mosul, making her fifth trip to Iraq since 2001 with the U.N. Refugee Agency. While there, she saw the destruction in the streets and met with residents to discuss the future of the city. People throughout the city are working to rebuild after the devastation in hopes of restoring West Mosul and its population numbers.
Angelina Jolie Visited West Mosul to Highlight Its Struggles
For three years, West Mosul was imprisoned by ISIS, and its people’s fight to regain their freedom was an extensive and difficult task that endangered the hundreds of thousands of people who resided there. Because of this, many citizens either fled the country or lost their lives in the war that was taking place in their neighborhoods, reducing the population of the city.
“I met parents whose 17-year-old daughter lost her legs in a mortar strike. When they carried her to get medical treatment they were turned away, and she bled to death,” Jolie told Look to the Stars.
What UNHCR Is Doing in West Mosul
Many families are returning to West Mosul, and UNHCR is helping these people through a variety of programs. These programs help citizens with tasks such as rebuilding homes that have been demolished, stepping in as legal representation for those who have been mistakenly detained and even getting replacements for crucial legal documents that were lost in the chaos of war.
After Angelina Jolie visited West Mosul, she told Look to the Stars, “I have no words for the strength it must take to rebuild after loss like this. But that is what the people of this city are doing. They are grief-stricken and traumatized, but they are also hopeful. They are clearing their homes with their own hands and volunteering and helping each other. But they need our assistance.”
Her words illustrate the importance of the situation. People are capable of managing things on their own to a point. However, it is in times like these where a few extra hands can go a long way. This is precisely why UNHCR has had such a lasting impact, by helping in West Mosul and all over the world.
Around the world, 68.5 million people have been forcibly removed from their homes. UNHCR and its 11,517 staff members work in 128 countries, and last year spent a record $7.7 billion to help refugees and internally displaced persons.
Many people fear that if they do not rebuild West Mosul, ISIS will return to the city. After an estimated 10,000 civilian deaths, it is clear that the return of ISIS is an event that the citizens of West Mosul are trying their best to avoid. All around the city, volunteers have come forward to clean up streets and buildings. It is a major undertaking, but people are doing whatever they can. Visits by people like Angelina Jolie can help raise global awareness of the situation in the city and help bring in much-needed aid to contribute to the rebuilding efforts.
– Raven Patzke