ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Over 4,000 Iraqi and foreign runners took part in a “peace marathon” on Thursday in efforts to raise money for rebuilding war-torn Mosul’s western district.
The first “International Nineveh Marathon for Peace” took place in Mosul’s eastern district near the destroyed Old Bridge.
"Each participant contributed 5,000 dinars ($4) to take part in the race," Raad al-Taii, a spokesman for the organizers, told AFP.
The event was organized to raise funds for displaced residents of west Mosul as well as help in rebuilding homes and shops.
"I thank God for my participation in the International Nineveh Marathon for Peace, and I thank God for having won this marathon,” said Bagdaly Salima, an Algerian athlete who came in first place.
“I want to offer this victory to the people of Nineveh province. I offer them my congratulations for the peace and security,” he added.
Another participant who came in third place said, "I participated in the +Marathon for Peace+ to tell the world that we are one nation and that nobody can divide us.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the defeat of ISIS in west Mosul on July 10, three years after Iraq's second-largest city was seized by ISIS militants and nearly a year after military operations began to liberate the city.
Years of ISIS control over Mosul and military operations left key infrastructure in ruins, causing the largest rebuilding and stabilization challenge the world has seen in decades.
Representative of the United Nations Develop Program (UNDP) in Iraq, Lise Grande, told Rudaw in late July that estimates to repair basic public infrastructure in western Mosul alone sit at $700 million.
"The marathon is a message of peace for the entire world... and also a local and international call to raise awareness for reconstruction," said Moataz al-Rawi, one of the organizers of the event.