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Angelina Jolie in Iraq: “People Here Have Lost Everything”

“We often tend to assume, as an international community, that when the fighting is over, the work is done.”

Some powerful words spoken by Angelina Jolie in Iraq this week. She’s reminding us that although the people of West Mosul may no longer be front page news, their story continues:

Angelina Jolie in West Mosul, Iraq, June 2018

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits the Old City in West Mosul, Iraq, on June 16, 2018. Photo credit: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Angelina Jolie,  a Special Envoy with the UNHCR, arrived in the Old City in West Mosul, Iraq on the second day of Eid-al-fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. It’s supposed to be a time of feasting and celebration for the locals, but instead, they are returning to ruins, decomposing bodies and unexploded ordnance nearly a year after their city’s liberation. They are desperately trying to rebuild their homes and their lives with almost no help.

“This is the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR,” Angelina says outside the al-Nuri Mosque. “People here have lost everything: their homes are destroyed. They are destitute. They have no medicine for their children, and many have no running water or basic services. They are still surrounded by bodies in the rubble.”

West Mosul was held captive by ISIS for three years. Three years of seige-like situations. Men, women and children faced with aerial bombardment, artillery barrage, snipers, torture and more.  Those who tried to flee the city were used as human shields or targeted. Buildings, schools, hospitals and homes all flattened. They have suffered unimaginable psychological trauma.

Angelina’s visit to the region was to relay a simple message to the rest of us: “I call on the international community not to forget Mosul, and not to turn their attention away from its people.”

If you’d like some more info on how you can help, please see UNHCR.

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