SEATTLE — A key city in Iraq with a population of 2.5 million, Mosul has been the epicenter of the combat against the Islamic State since it was captured in 2014. Since the beginning of the offensive in October 2016, Mosul has become the battleground for key stakeholder groups in the disputed region, including Shia militias, Kurdish fighters, Sunni-Arab tribesman and U.S. and Russian-sponsored coalition forces.
Major gains were made by coalition forces, with IS soldiers moving to the fringes of the Old City area over the past year. Unfortunately, throughout the course of the attacks, significant damage was done to Mosul’s infrastructure and public facilities, particularly the bridge across the Tigris River connecting the east of the city to the west, buildings, industries and key archaeological sites.
During the course of the battle of Mosul, aid convoys affiliated with paramilitary troops made routine deliveries of necessities including food, water and blankets from Shiite-populated areas of southern Iraq.
The Mosul strike has predominantly been a full-scale urban battle. As a result, it has affected a large proportion of civilians in the city. Over the course of the nine-month defense, civilian casualties have been estimated to range between 9,000 and 11,000. However, many are still unaccounted for and are assumed to be dead due to injuries sustained from falling rubble.
According to an estimate by the International Organization of Migration, over 800,000 individuals have been forced to flee the city due to human rights violations. Since 2014, a further three million have been displaced and are in need of food and water. Furthermore, the city’s government and business sector are in a beleaguered state, as nearly 20,000 buildings have been destroyed in the aftermath of the battle of Mosul.
The restoration of the city proves to be an arduous challenge for authorities, as 40,000 homes need to be rebuilt. U.N. experts also highlight that reparation costs could reach over $700 million. Corruption also remains a pressing issue in the provision of aid and is quite rampant. Moreover, a predicted $100 billion is required to address the short and long-term impacts of the battle of Mosul.
Seeing as the need remains dire, there is an immediate emergency appeal for humanitarian aid. Up until now, the United States has provided over $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance to address the immediate needs of the affected civilians. The international community has provided funding of over $400 million to improve the conditions of water, electricity and other basic amenities.
Despite the obvious limitations in funding, the United Nations World Food Programme is assisting citizens still trapped in the interior of the country. Additionally, a majority of the rebuilding initiative is being undertaken with the financial savings of Mosul’s citizenry, owing to the lack of funding.
Psychological trauma also remains a very widespread concern in the aftermath of the battle of Mosul, especially for children. UNICEF is taking on an active role in mitigating the impacts the battle of Mosul still has on young children.
Resettlement and restoration are yielding great progress in specific areas in Mosul. According to a report in July by the New York Times, crucial infrastructures in the city’s east side, such as schools and hospitals, are reopening and civilians are steadily beginning to return. Moreover, according to a report released on April 18, 2017, the Shabak minority civilians are beginning to return to their home communities.
To ensure the steady recovery of the city, the joint presence of United States and Iraqi forces is expected in the short run, though a long-term military presence still remains only tentative.
Addressing the immediate concerns of Mosul can help build the foundation for a long-term settlement to the problem, ranging from key concerns like overcoming food insecurity to improving food production and agriculture. As IS influence on the region begins to grow smaller, effective solutions concerning humanitarian aid, restoration and employment can be implemented in the near future.
– Shivani Ekkanath