‘Worst devastation I have seen,’ says UN refugee envoy Angelina Jolie, as she visits West Mosul

UNICEF/Romenzi
Women and children walk through the debris of buildings and vehicles destroyed during intense fighting as they flee for safe areas in Mosul, Iraq.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

After visiting the shattered streets of West Mosul over the weekend, the long-standing United Nations Refugee Agency envoy, Angelina Jolie, said that she had never seen such devastation, in her 17-years of working in the field.

Mosul was liberated by an Iraqi government-led coalition last July, just over three years after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL (also known as Da’esh) seized Iraq’s second city, and following an intense battle which lasted for months.

“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years with UNHCR,” Ms. Jolie lamented, which is saying a lot, considering that this is her 61st mission – and fifth to Iraq – since she started representing the agency in 2001.

She arrived in the city on the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. After walking among the bombed-out buildings and meeting families beginning to return, she urged the world not to forget their agonies nor ignore the struggles they continue to face.

“These people have lost everything, and the trauma and the loss that they have suffered is unparalleled,” the Special Envoy said in front of the ruins of al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City.

She marveled at the ability of residents to carry on: “I have no words for the strength it must take to rebuild after loss like this,” Ms. Jolie asserted. “They are clearing their homes with their own hands, and volunteering and helping each other. But they need our assistance,” she added.

One local family showed Ms. Jolie the damage to their ancestral home, built a century ago. Mohamed, 47, spoke of how he was born and married there, and how a mortar tore through the roof one morning last June, gravely injuring his 17-year-old daughter. When they carried her to get medical care, he said, they were turned away and she bled to death.

“I want to rebuild the house and come back here,” Mohamed said. “Even if I have painful memories in this house, where else would I go? I have to come back home.”

Throughout Mosul, some 40,000 homes need rehabilitation. UNHCR and its partner, Human Appeal, have begun providing cash assistance to the returning families who are overwhelmed by the lack of shelter, infrastructure, services and jobs – at risk for sliding deeper into poverty.

In the al-Zanjely district, Ms. Jolie met Hassan, a 33-year-old vegetable vendor who spoke of losing his home twice: first when militants confiscated it, and then when an air strike reduced it to rubble. He finished the first phase of rebuilding, in time for Eid, erecting several new walls, windows and doorways. Soon he will begin work on the roof, he told UNHCR.

He, his wife and their three young children now rent space in a modest house with another family and the children are back in school.

“This is my country, my people, my neighbours. Why would I go? One doesn’t leave his home.” Hassan said.

Such resolve may be a crucial element in building a stable future in Mosul, Iraq and the region. But people like Hassan will need more support from a world that has turned its eyes away.

“It is deeply upsetting,” Ms. Jolie said, “that people who have endured unparalleled brutality have so little as they try, somehow, to rebuild the lives they once had.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Teachers launch a free ebook to help children cope with the pandemic

Faith can overcome religious nationalism. Here’s how

Climate change and health – can medical students be the solution?

To feed 10 billion people, we must preserve biodiversity. Here’s how

Commission launches open access publishing platform for scientific papers

The world’s fatigue from COVID-19

Why women aren’t allowed to work

UN chief underscores value of cooperation with Southeast Asian countries

“One Belt One Road”: Its relevance to the European Companies

Coronavirus: Commission Statement on consulting Member States on proposal to further expand State aid Temporary Framework to recapitalisation measures

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

European Energy Union: Integration of markets and need for in-house energy production

New York City has a plan to fight fast fashion waste. Here’s how it works

MWC 2016 LIVE: Xiaomi looks to revive growth with flagships

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

The ECB must extend its money stimulus beyond 2018: Draghi reckoning

How to provide health education and thus create better health systems

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

What the EU is doing to foster human-centric AI

Women’s Rights: Another Challenge for Medical Students

A machine din

Egypt is building one of the world’s largest solar parks

OK computer: why the machine age still needs humans

G20 LIVE: The European Sting covers online world news and the latest developments at G20 from Antalya Turkey

Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

Monday’s Daily Brief: US-DPRK relationship reset, ‘Horrific’ Kabul bombing, Anti-conscription plan in Syria, Climate change heat stress, Security Council in Iraq

3 reasons why embracing the circular economy can be powerful for middle income countries

How microfinance develops decent work

Reforms in a few countries drive a decline in average OECD labour taxes

‘Compelling case’ for urgency around global disarmament, UN-led forum told

Are Halloween pumpkins a problem for the planet?

Ukraine: EU allocates €25.4 million in humanitarian aid

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

EP’s MFF negotiators disappointed by failure of EU budget summit

When is necessary understand the cultural marks in health-disease process

Somalia advancing towards ‘inclusive and peaceful future’ for women, deputy UN chief

South Sudan: €48.5 million in additional EU humanitarian aid

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

This is the most sustainable way to use fashion – and it’s not renting clothes

Strengthening European unity is in all our interests, says Luxembourg PM Bettel

EU external action budget: European Commission welcomes the final adoption of the EU’s new long-term external action budget for 2021-2027

How women are transforming the Arab world’s start-up scene

How fintech is making investment accessible

Rapid growth in China post-COVID makes it ripe for investment

What we need for a better European Solidarity Corps

New SDG Advocates sign up for ‘peace, prosperity, people’ and planet, on the road to 2030

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

Parliament wants to suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey

Why strive for Industry 4.0

MEPs approve new, more inclusive Erasmus+ programme

Have we reached peak smartphone?

These 2 teenagers have helped change the law on plastic pollution in Indonesia

Jordan flash flooding: UN chief ‘saddened’ by loss of life

Macao: EU reports on political and economic developments in 2020

Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

Thousands of Syrians in ‘life and death’ struggle amid harsh conditions in remote desert camp, UN warns

Portuguese Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

This research can help organizations plan for different COVID-19 scenarios

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s