Months later and Mosul locals are still waiting for significant help in rebuilding their hometown. Some, like the stall holders in one central marketplace, are taking a DIY approach.
For five months, Mosul locals who used to do business in one of the city’s biggest commercial areas, the Bab Al Saray market, have not been allowed to enter their old workplaces.
“It was a military area where civilians were not allowed to go,” explains Radwan Abdel Hafez, a contractor who is on the edge of the destroyed marketplace, counting the number of trucks coming and going, all carting rubble away.
“But eventually we were able to get permission to enter from the Iraqi security forces. And now we are starting our own reconstruction campaign called Do It Yourself,” he says, not hiding his disdain for the lack of government assistance in Mosul. Like many others here, Hafez has given up on the idea of the federal government coming to help with reconstruction anytime soon.
For around three years, Mosul was the de-facto capital of the extremist group known as the Islamic State, who took control of the city in mid-2014. During fighting to push the group out of one of Iraq’s biggest cities, some areas were almost completely destroyed. The historic parts of the city, where narrow alleyways and houses built close together made fighting difficult, suffered some of the worst damage.
Around 3,000 tons of rubble have already been removed from this marketplace in the old city. “Every day, about 50 big trucks carry away what is left of buildings that were built hundreds of years ago,” Hafez says.