‘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.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

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

Berlin favours economic and social disintegration in certain Eurozone countries

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

Better air pollution data is helping us all breathe easier. Here’s how

Preventing and resolving conflicts must form ‘backbone’ of collective efforts – UN chief

Public opinion misled by the Commission on air transport safety

Parliament pushes for cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

Britain’s May won the first round on the Brexit agreement with the EU

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this is why we need dignity more than ever

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns deadly attack near Kabul airport

France is bringing back national service

Further reforms will promote a more inclusive and resilient Indonesian economy

Schengen: new rules for temporary checks at national borders

A Sting Exclusive: “Paris and beyond: EU action and what COP21 should deliver”, Green MEP Keith Taylor discusses from Brussels 

3 ways governments and carmakers can keep up with the future of transport

Alcoholic drinks: Commission tables update of rules governing alcohol excise duties

The West – the EU and the US – is writing off Turkey’s Erdogan

Immigrant integration policies have improved but challenges remain

MEPs agree on new rules to tax digital companies’ revenues

Banks can fight financial crime. But we can’t do it alone

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

From diamonds to recycling: how blockchain can drive responsible and ethical businesses

Nature is our strongest ally in ensuring global water security

The future of crypto-assets, from opportunities to policy implications

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe needs decisive progress for stronger cybersecurity”, EU Commissioner Gabriel highlights from Brussels

Ceasefire holds in Tripoli, but core problems remain, says UN Libya mission chief

Draghi, Letta: All Eurozone countries must be able to borrow like Germany

Macron crowned king of Europe in Washington D.C.; just a working meeting with Trump for Merkel

Entrepreneurship in a newly shaped Europe: what is the survival kit for a young Catalan and British entrepreneur in 2018?

The Oslo model: how to prepare your city for the electric-vehicle surge

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

FROM THE FIELD: A UN peacekeepers-eye view of DR Congo

In Bali, UN chief Guterres outlines importance of international financial cooperation for sustainable development

European Commission recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

How a new approach to meat can help end hunger

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

EU cracks under the weight of its policy on the Ukraine-Russia nub

False promises to Small and Medium Enterprises

Summer JADE Meeting 2015: We came curious, we left inspired

EU Commission retracts on the Chinese solar panel case

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

We lack a global framework for saving our environment. Here’s how we change that

Further reforms needed for a stronger and more integrated Europe

UN chief welcomes Taliban’s temporary truce announcement, encourages all parties to embrace ‘Afghan-owned peace’

Have central banks missed the exit train?

Germany resists Macron’s plan for closer and more cohesive Eurozone; Paris and Berlin at odds

World response to AIDS epidemic at a ‘critical juncture’

How India is harnessing technology to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution

“Two Pack” approved: Is democracy chased away from Brussels?

Devastating storms like Hurricane Florence ‘unusual this far north’: UN weather agency

My twin from Guangzhou

Advocate General ‘outlaws’ Data Retention Directive

MWC 2016 LIVE: GTI shifts to phase two – 5G – after hitting milestones

UN, Somali Government seek $80 million in immediate relief for flood-affected populations

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

This Norwegian cruise line plans to power its ships with rotting fish

Three ways the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaping geopolitics

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