MOSUL — On July 9, Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi announced that the city of Mosul had finally been completely liberated from the Islamic State. Amidst the global celebration, one fact was drowned out: the city of Mosul had been left in tatters after the war. Now, many residents of Mosul and people around the world are beginning the vital work of reconstruction in Mosul.
Mosul once had a population larger than the city of Philadelphia, but after two years of occupation by ISIS, nearly one million people have fled or been displaced and the city has been decimated. Rulkmini Callimachi, a New York Times reporter on the ground in Mosul, described walking around the city as “the scene of an earthquake… every single building that we go by has been destroyed, collapsed, pancaked.”
According to The Atlantic: “Three-quarters of Mosul’s roads, almost all of its bridges, and 65 percent of its electrical network have been destroyed. Much of the city’s water infrastructure has been booby trapped by militants.” For many in Mosul, their once-cherished city has become unrecognizable.
Stories of this devastation make beginning reconstruction in Mosul all the more urgent; delaying the process will only exacerbate the well-being of millions of Iraqi citizens and make it more difficult and more expensive in the future. Local individuals and volunteer groups have already begun the reconstruction process by rebuilding their homes and clearing rubble from streets.
To rebuild the entire city, there will have to be a large-scale effort and coordination between the Iraqi government and international organizations. Reconstruction in Mosul is likely to cost tens of billions of dollars, which makes international aid to Iraq now more important than ever. Australia has already contributed $1.5 million to stabilization in Iraq.
Think tanks like the International Peace Institute have already begun publishing ideas for a policy that might help ensure that reconstruction in Mosul is done sustainably. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Iraq have joined forces to initiate more than 200 projects, all aimed at stabilizing and reconstructing Mosul.
According to UNDP, the projects will “repair damaged water, sewage and electrical systems, rehabilitate education and health facilities, and boost the local economy by employing youth on work brigades to remove rubble, open transport routes and revitalize the city.” These efforts are projected to help usher the return of Mosul’s displaced citizens. UNDP has previously been working in other parts of Iraq affected by the crisis and since the beginning of its work, more than 1.6 million people have returned home. This news bodes well for the citizens of Mosul that are eager to return home.
International aid that catalyzes the process of rebuilding Mosul is crucial. Without it, pockets of instability could incubate new terrorist organizations and once again cause the country of Iraq to descend into chaos and terror, threatening not only millions of Iraqi lives but the lives of people all over the world. Reconstruction in Mosul is vital to ushering in a new period of peace within the region and throughout the entire globe.
– Adesuwa Agbonile