Af­ter the bat­tle: Mo­sul to rise from the ashes

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The bat­tle over, it’s now time to start re­build­ing Iraq’s sec­ond city, parts of which were lit­er­ally flat­tened dur­ing the of­fen­sive against holed up ji­hadists of the Is­lamic State group. But be­fore this can hap­pen, the chaotic mess caused by the con­flict that dev­as­tated Mo­sul must be cleared away. Stand­ing out­side his dam­aged house in the west of the city, Manaf Yunes looked on as a worker re­moved rub­ble from a bal­cony. “I don’t have any money be­cause I haven’t been paid for three years. I had to bor­row to be able to be­gin ren­o­vat­ing,” the 57-year-old former of­fi­cial said.

On July 10, the au­thor­i­ties an­nounced they had de­feated IS in Mo­sul af­ter a ninemonth cam­paign that un­leashed de­struc­tion of al­most unimag­in­able di­men­sions on the an­cient city. Ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ment, it will cost more than $1 bil­lion just to re­store ba­sic ser­vices such as run­ning water, elec­tric­ity, school­ing and med­i­cal care to all of Mo­sul, said Lise Grande of the UN Devel­op­ment Pro­gram (UNDP) in Iraq. The western sec­tor was the hard­est hit. “The lev­els of de­struc­tion we are see­ing are the worst in Iraq. Western Mo­sul rep­re­sents one of the largest and most com­plex sta­bi­liza­tion chal­lenges the UN has faced,” Grande said. West Mo­sul has been evis­cer­ated, its build­ings half col­lapsed or shat­tered, craters in the road sprout­ing tan­gles of mis­shapen and bro­ken water pipes.

Restor­ing ba­sic ser­vices

Ac­cord­ing to Ab­del Sat­tar Habbo of the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, more than 90 per­cent of west Mo­sul’s in­fra­struc­ture and pub­lic ser­vices was de­stroyed. And the fig­ure for pri­vate prop­erty is nearly as high, at 70 per­cent. He put the cost of the dam­age at sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars, and said be­tween three and four months would be needed just to “sta­bi­lize” the west of the city. By that he meant bring­ing back on line-even partly ne­ces­si­ties in­clud­ing water, power and pub­lic ser­vices to en­able “a re­turn to life”.

“Based on pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ments, we es­ti­mate that $470 mil­lion is needed to help re­store the main elec­tric­ity, water and sewage grids and re­ha­bil­i­tate key pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing hos­pi­tals, schools and houses in the most heav­ily dam­aged neigh­bor­hoods in western Mo­sul,” said the UNDP’s Grande. In the old town, where the ji­hadists bat­tled to the last in the fi­nal hours of the most fe­ro­cious clashes, “al­most one-third of the hous­ing stock is most likely se­verely dam­aged or com­pletely de­stroyed”, the UN wrote in a re­cent re­port.

Er­fan Ali, head of the UN Hu­man Set­tle­ments Pro­gram in Iraq, said that de­spite the de­struc­tion, the med­i­cal sec­tor was al­ready on the mend. “Some ma­jor hos­pi­tals... have been al­most com­pletely de­stroyed,” he said, while others were “com­pletely looted and burned” when Mo­sul was un­der IS oc­cu­pa­tion. “How­ever, the health sec­tor is grad­u­ally re­cov­er­ing, and al­most half of the hos­pi­tals are cur­rently work­ing, which means in most cases that some floors have been re­ha­bil­i­tated,” he said.

Lay­ing new pipes

In the east of the city a sem­blance of nor­mal life has re­sumed, with crowded streets and shops and restau­rants again open for busi­ness. And in west Mo­sul, de­spite the wide­spread de­struc­tion, hes­i­tant steps are al­ready be­ing taken to bring the area back to life. As rub­ble is re­moved, work­men from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity lay new pipes in trenches dug in road­ways to re­pair the sew­er­age sys­tem. While they await the be­gin­ning of ma­jor re­con­struc­tion projects, res­i­dents of bat­tered Mo­sul must do what they can to cope. For elec­tric­ity they rely on neigh­bor­hood gen­er­a­tors, and water is sup­plied by tank trucks or NGOs.

Aid groups have given out “con­struc­tion kits” of wooden plank­ing, ply­wood pan­els and tar­pau­lins to nearly 12,700 fam­i­lies, said Me­lany Markham, spokesper­son in Iraq for the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil. Out­side Manaf Yunes’s house in the west of the city, there are now bags of ce­ment and stacks of breeze blocks. The front of his home bears the scars of war. A booby­trapped ve­hi­cle ex­ploded out­side the build­ing, blow­ing in its win­dows and de­stroy­ing part of the bal­cony. A wooden board now cov­ers a large hole in his bath­room wall. “We built this house bit by bit,” he said, gloomily, and now work must be­gin again. —AFP

BAGHDAD: This file photo shows Iraqi forces walk­ing amidst the de­struc­tion in Mo­sul’s Old City. —AFP

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