Volunteers clean debris from the library at Mosul's university. Photos: Mustafa Khaled
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Citing inaction by the Iraqi government and politicians, a group of student volunteers came together this weekend to clean the debris from the University of Mosul’s Ibn Khaldun Center Library.
“We are young, we saw our city destroyed and the government is unable to help,” the organizer of the volunteer group, Mustafa Khaled, told Rudaw English of their work on Saturday and Sunday.
“So we decided to rebuild it and prepare it to be the beautiful university it once was.”
Much of the University of Mosul was destroyed either under ISIS control or by coalition airstrikes in the operations to retake the city from the militant group.
Some 150,000 books were destroyed inside the Ibn Khaldun Center, according to the group.
“We were only able to save about 2,000 books,” said Khaled, a 21-year-old Computer Engineering student.
Prior to the reign of ISIS in Mosul, the library. File photo: University of Mosul
Several libraries across Mosul were targeted by ISIS and the books inside burned.
The University of Mosul is one of the largest education compounds in Iraq and is situated in the eastern part of Mosul that was announced fully liberated on January 24. The entire city was declared liberated on July 10.
ISIS used the university’s facilities to manufacture weapons and drones. The campus was also one of the group’s main command and control centres in eastern Mosul. In early 2016, coalition warplanes bombed the university, targeting ISIS’ headquarters there.
Khaled is calling for support in the restoration process of the University of Mosul, as the group of volunteers took it upon themselves to do the clean-up without funding.
UNDP stated it July it 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, although Khaled's group was not a part of such an UN-sponsored team.
“But we are far from the government and the politicians,” he said. “Most of the meetings are politicized and we want our support to be civil or international, not political.”
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.