Four Years Later, Iraqis Wait for Government to Clear Mosul Streets of ISIS Victim Corpses

Iraqi pupils wearing protective masks walk to school on the first day of the new academic year the northern city of Mosul, on November 29, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. - Iraq's schools began a new academic year, after weeks of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. Children will attend …
ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images

Kurdish news service Rudaw reported Tuesday that residents of Mosul are still waiting for the corpses of the Islamic State’s victims to be cleared from the streets. The city was liberated from ISIS control four years ago.

Mosul residents who spoke to Rudaw said the government has done little to help rebuild Mosul after the fierce battle against ISIS — so little that parts of the city are still filled with human remains:

Student Ahmed Mohammed says the city is still full of dead bodies.

“We are asking that the western side of Mosul and the old city be cleared [of human remains]. There are hundreds of human remains. The corpses smell.”

“Clothes of [dead] men and women are visible on the streets…” added local Humadi Khamis.  

Other residents complained about the lack of financial support for the shattered city, noting thousands of residents fled during the ISIS occupation and returned to their homes as penniless refugees.

“The government has not given us a penny in compensation. They have not given us even a single glass of water in compensation. We have restarted life entirely on our own. We do not have any money. No assistance or support is given to us by the government,” an unhappy local said.

Another Rudaw report highlighted the terrible state of health care in Mosul, quoting residents who said few clinics or hospitals are operational, and medicine is in such short supply that doctors tell their patients to bring their own medical supplies when they ask for treatment.

A hospital official in Mosul told Rudaw that nine of the city’s 13 hospitals were damaged during the battle against ISIS four years ago, and only two of them have been repaired. He estimated the city’s overall healthcare capacity has been reduced by 70 percent.

A grim report from The National in November depicted Mosul’s battered hospitals as war zones, with patients fighting over scarce beds and angry crowds attacking doctors. The coronavirus pandemic slammed into the creaky Mosul medical system like a tsunami, leaving patients to languish in hospital corridors and forcing doctors to divert almost all of their limited resources to Chinese coronavirus cases.

“We are now in 2020 and we don’t have proper hospitals; we are treating patients in caravans,” one doctor said, referring to the improvised treatment centers constructed by the government.

The infamous corruption of the Iraqi government made the dire situation in Mosul even worse, as The National pointed out:

Muslawis [Mosul residents] point the finger at the highest levels of government as well as local officials, accusing them of striking deals that line their pockets and risk the health of the residents. The former governor of Nineveh, Nawfal Akoub, was arrested last month along with officials close to him for allegedly embezzling $64 million of public funds.

The money had been designated for the reconstruction of Mosul, including the rebuilding of two hospitals and support for those who lost their homes in the war against ISIS. Mosul mayor Zuhair Al Araji has had several charges of corruption levelled against him by various Iraqi officials, but remains in power. The National was not able to reach Mr Al Araji for comment on the matter.

“Corruption is rife in the health sector, we don’t know where the money is going. We are not aware of what humanitarian organisations are doing in the city and there is no co-ordination between the local health sector and medical organisations,” said Abdul Wahid Al Jubouri, resident doctor at Ibn Sina hospital.

Several exasperated doctors told The National they have no idea what happened to the money allocated by the government to rebuild Mosul’s hospital system, or the money provided by international relief organizations. Some accused the Iraqi central government, which is politically dominated by Shiite Muslims, of deliberately ignoring Sunni-majority Mosul.

Mosul and Nineveh are still plagued by sporadic terrorist violence. Many of the city’s displaced residents are still hesitant to return home, fearing they will be targeted as family members of ISIS collaborators.

In November, Netflix began airing an Arabic-language film produced by Joe and Anthony Russo (of Marvel superhero movie fame) called Mosul that dramatized resistance against the ISIS occupation by a few courageous members of the city’s police force. The film was very popular in Europe and the Middle East, prompting an avalanche of death threats against the cast and crew. 

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