MOSUL, Iraq – Residents are struggling to make a living in the once vibrant and thriving eastern half of Mosul, now ravaged by two years of ISIS rule and a war to push the militants out.
On a road in Nabi Younis bazaar, two exhausted men sitting on blocks on the edge of the busy bazaar come every day to try to earn money to feed their hungry children.
“I have not worked for three days now. But, we everyday come to the bazaar in order to be able to cover our livelihood. Even if we have customers, we will make 20,000 IQD to 30,000 ($17 – $26) a day,” said one of them.
Another two men riding a donkey-cart loaded with gas containers appeared. They said everyday they go to the bazaar to earn some bread for their children.
Speaking while sitting on the carriage, one man blamed Baghdad. “The government stole all of our oil and left nothing for us. We have been working for a while, but are unable to provide food for our families. They sell 99 percent of the oil for them, and provide us the remaining one percent.”
He went on to say, “I served along with the [Iraqi] army for 15 years and have got nothing till now. The good of this country is not for us, but America and Israel.”
Asking him about the security situation in east Mosul after it was retaken from ISIS, he replied, “The situation of Mosul is well. But the government does not work to help us find jobs.”
An official from the Iraqi army told Rudaw, “After retaking the left side of Mosul, the Iraqi army’s 16th division has been assigned to provide security.”
“On the left side of Mosul, we protect the security of a number of neighborhoods, including Jazaer, Zubat, Faisaliya, Maliya, Karrama, and Baas,” added Qasim Barwari, an official within the 16th division. “Yet, we do not have any police station. We even run police affairs.”
Barwari said the people of the left bank are very afraid and concerned because of the drawn out battle to oust ISIS from the western side, just across the river.
“The people are still afraid and reluctant as the liberation of the right side is taking too long,” he said, mentioning that they “assure the people of Mosul that ISIS will die and will be eliminated with the help of the security forces and the brave Peshmerga.”
In one of the neighborhoods, Rudaw’s team came across a father holding a little child in his arms. He too spoke on the current situation of Mosul.
“The security of east Mosul is safe, but it lacks services such as electricity and water – they are not available. We call upon the Iraqi government to provide it for us.”
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, was occupied by ISIS in the summer of 2014. Since a military campaign launched in October 2016, Iraqi forces managed to recover the eastern half of the city. On 19 February, they launched an offensive to reclaim the western half and have retaken an estimated 60 percent. They are currently engaged in a slow, tough fight in the central, old districts of western Mosul.