Three years of ISIS control over Mosul and military operations to liberate the city left key infrastructure in ruins, causing the largest rebuilding and stabilization challenge the world has seen in decades.
According to preliminary UN estimates of western Mosul, of 54 residential districts, 15 are completely destroyed, 23 are moderately damaged, and 16 are lightly damaged.
The representative of the United Nations Develop Program (UNDP) in Iraq, Lise Grande, who is also the humanitarian coordinator, told Rudaw that estimates for immediate stabilization, to repair basic public infrastructure in western Mosul alone, sit at $700 million.
In a letter to the Global Coalition from Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, published on the US Department of State’s website Tuesday, he stated that the US will provide much needed funds to the UN in order to continue the post-ISIS process of stabilizing Mosul and surrounding areas.
“During its occupation of Mosul, ISIS destroyed many of the city’s religious and cultural treasures, including the al-Nuri Mosque and the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah. ISIS used mosques, schools and hospitals as bomb-building facilities and fighting positions,” McGurk stated.
The UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) is currently supporting over 1,000 projects in 25 liberated areas in cooperation with the Iraqi government to help rebuild destroyed infrastructure as well as provide jobs to Iraq’s displaced so that they can return home as soon as possible and receive an income to support their families in the process.
“I didn’t see my family for three years during this conflict,” one Mosul resident, Ibrahim Mustafa, said as he cleaned a roundabout near the al-Zuhur neighborhood. “Now that I’m back, I need a way to support them. This job helps me do that.”
Lise Grande said in a statement on July 17, “The level of destruction in western Mosul is the worst in Iraq… There’s a huge amount of work to do and it needs to be done quickly.”
“The United States is already responding to these challenges,” McGurk stated. “There is more to do, and investments now will carry dividends later to help maintain the rate of returnees to their homes in liberated areas.”
The UN has requested $707 million for stabilization programs in western Mosul, $174 million in eastern Mosul and another $232 million to stabilize other areas of Iraq.
One of the largest health care facilities in Mosul, Ibn Al-Atheer Hospital, suffered extensive damage in the conflict. Teams of women supported by UNDP have spent weeks cleaning and restoring the hospital in order to make it operational again.
“My husband was killed in the conflict,” said Amira Saleh, a widow from Mosul. “I want to work here as much as possible to support my family.”
The UNDP is also supporting the rebuilding of educational facilities where classrooms were destroyed or damaged under the control of ISIS causing children to miss over two years of school.
Students were eager to return to Mosul University which re-opened in May soon after the liberation of east Mosul. Much of the university lies in ruins, but some buildings suffered only minimal damage or escaped completely unscathed.
UNDP is helping to rehabilitate the university by providing 50 generators, deploying “cash-for-work” teams to clean the university grounds and clear debris as well as rebuilding dormitories.
Repairs to the As-Salamiyah Water Treatment Plant were completed and it was re-opened in early May and Al-Qubba Water Treatment Plant in east Mosul is under rehabilitation. Due to the repairs, hundreds of thousands of people living in east Mosul and other areas of the Nineveh Province now have access to clean, safe drinking water.
"We are working as quickly to possible to re-establish water and sewage systems and electrical grids," UNDP's Grande said. "Thousands of people, many from destitute families, are working on public schemes, earning income while helping to rebuild their communities."
Although Mosul is now liberated from ISIS, the city still faces many infrastructure challenges to rebuild a city that dates back to 401 BC, parts of the city now resembling a ghost town.
“Here in Mosul, everything is gone,” Mustafa of al-Zuhur neighborhood said. “Our jobs, our homes, our livelihoods. But we still have our souls. All our neighbors help each other. Rebuilding our city is one way to do that.”