Despairing of the corpses and debris littering the streets, many Iraqis have left their homes in areas liberated from Islamic State two years ago and voluntarily returned to the displacement camps that housed them during and after the fighting.
“All houses and buildings [of Mosul] are in complete ruin. I saw in my own eyes corpses. I saw a hand of a woman,” said Sabiha Jassim, 61, who has since gone back to the Hassan Shami camp for displaced people. Jassim says there was no drinking water or access to medical treatment for her ailing husband, both of which are available at the camp.
In Hassan Sham camp alone, more than 200 families like Jassim’s have returned this year after having initially gone home. Bodies and destroyed buildings are still a regular sight two years on. In contrast, the camps provide residents with security and comparatively comfortable lives.
Islamic State seized large swathes of Iraq in 2014 and was finally defeated in December 2017. Militants ravaged and looted the areas, leaving behind houses, mosques, and churches in ruin.
The central government says it will need up to $100 billion to rebuild Mosul.