RAQQA, Syria – In sweltering heat, residents of Raqqa earn a living clearing the rubble of war-damaged homes, saving what is salvageable.
Since the defeat of ISIS in its one-time self-declared capital, the city of Raqqa has largely dropped off the front pages of the world’s newspapers.
But the story is far from over. The city needs to be rebuilt and the people of the city have shouldered that job.
Lack of electricity and drinkable water are major issues, as is transportation. The main bridges over the Euphrates River were destroyed in the fight for the city. Now, people rely on risk ferry trips that sometimes turn out deadly.
Raqqa was declared liberated from ISIS last October by SDF forces with the backing of the international coalition.
The UN estimates 138,000 people have returned to Raqqa since October and humanitarian agencies are slowly increasing their operations, though some 7,000 ISIS explosives left behind still pose a serious danger.
The city is under the administration of the Raqqa Civil Council. They say they have not received the aid they were promised to rebuild the city.