sisters sara and adela are among an estimated 800,000 displaced moslawis; they fled their neighborhood with their mother and father and had been living in the camp for three weeks when I met them in june 2017
hasansham camp for the internally displaced. june 2017. though the city of mosul has been "officially" liberated an estimated 800,000 people remain displaced as reconstruction efforts, estimated to cost billions and take decades, begin.
sama, age 12, of west mosul hopes to return home so that she can go back to school. it's been over three years since she has been in a proper classroom -- while under isis control schools in mosul were either shutdown or the curriculum was drastically changed to indoctrinate students.
inside the hasansham camp for internally displaced persons. june 2017.
an injured iraqi soldier is helped into a makeshift clinic. west mosul, june 2017.
civilians and a few isof soldiers take a moments break in a pool hall in a liberated neighborhood of west mosul.
less than 2km from the contact line and less than 2km from where civilians were trapped within mosuls old city, life had started to return to some semblance of normalcy. june 2017.
civilians carry what belongings they are able as they flee west mosul. june 2017.
a hole that isis members once used to travel through west mosul, from house to house, on foot, relatively undetected (by aircraft and soldiers as they were out of the streets) is seen patched up. local residents shared stories of daesh putting holes in the walls of their homes and it becoming "normal" to be sitting inside and to have fighters run through.
the group is known for their use of ieds and passageways, both among the reasons that the fight against isis has and continues to be unlike most other conflicts.
a resident of west mosul redefines "car trouble" as he somehow manages to drive his vehicle through the streets of a recently liberated neighborhood of the once besieged city.
with air strikes in sight, the marketplace had partially reopened in a liberated neighborhood of west mosul. less than 2km from the contact line and less than 2km from where civilians were trapped within mosuls old city, life began to return to some semblance of normalcy. june 2017
civilians and a few isof soldiers take a moments break in a pool hall in a liberated neighborhood of west mosul. less than 2km from the contact line and less than 2km from where civilians were trapped within mosuls old city, life had started to return to some semblance of normalcy. june 2017.
the sun sets on another day in mosul, as seen from inside a minaret. this particular mosque, located in west mosul, had been used a place of worship for daesh (and the minaret a snipers post) before being reclaimed by iraqi forces. it has since been refashioned into a tsp (trauma stabilization point), a place for wounded soldiers and civilians to receive care before being sent to mosul hospital.
from the roof of the TSP (trauma stabilization point) we were able to see daily life in the recently liberated neighborhoods of west mosul as well as the airstrikes that rained down on the old city day and night. june 2017
most camps for the internally displaced are home to thousands if not tens of thousands of people. providing medical care for this population is often done by a handful of volunteers. as you might imagine, the need far outstrips the available resources. i have hundreds of photos from my time within the hasansham camp for the internally displaced. many of the photographs show pieces of life within the camp — medical care, food distribution, daily life scenes, portraits of beautiful iraqi children — very few even come close to doing justice to what it must feel like to be these individuals.
this image may come close. there were over a hundred people, most women and children, waiting in the 105 degree weather to be seen by a small team of doctors. it was chaos and the situation reeked of desperation, helplessness and the quiet acknowledgment that their lives were no longer within their own control.
i met her eyes for a moment and when she didn’t look away i couldn’t either. we studied each other for a long moment, side by side and yet worlds apart. what is her name? what has her life been up until this moment where she is resigned to sitting on the ground amidst a crowd of women who are simply trying to be seen by a doctor? what are her thoughts right now? what is her future and the future of her children and her grandchildren?
life is difficult for any displaced person. for those with additional physical and mental handicaps survival becomes that much more of a challenge in a place where the need is great and resources are limited.
i met amira, age 15, in the hasansham camp for internally displaced moslawis. like tens of thousands of others from the city, she had been forced to flee when daesh came to her neighborhood. now she and 10,000+ others call the camp "home" as they wait to return to what remains of the homes and their city.
while i do not have children i do understand that to be a mother is, at least in part, to provide for your children. this desire to protect and to provide and to love is much more than a desire though -- it becomes part of who you are and the priorities of your children often supersede your own. .
i witnessed a lot while in mosul. as i begin to go back through several thousand images the fierce love of mothers is something that consistently stands out to me. in the face of untold hardship, with near everything out of their control, mothers knew no limits when it came to their children. sana is one of those women; here, in the hasansham camp for the internally displaced, she waits with her medical slip for the fifth straight hour for her son to be seen by the team of doctors.in a place where the need far outstrips the available aid sana will likely return to wait in line again tomorrow.
"what is your name?"
holding out her wrist in response she showed me the number written on her wristband, an identification given to her by the unhcr. someday i hope that she understands why this made me want to cry
an old daesh compound once used to make mortars and abandoned when iraqi forced (re)took control of the neighborhood. 06.12.17
no more then 500 yards from the "contact line" (i.e. the frontline) life exists, in moments and in spurts, as families work to piece back their lives post-daesh occupation. .