Angelina Jolie decries 'appalling' conditions in Mosul during visit to Iraq

The UN special envoy said the destruction in the former ISIS stronghold was the worst she had seen

MOSUL, IRAQ - JUNE 16: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this handout image provided by United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie meets Falak, 8, during a visit to West Mosul during a visit to Iraq, on June 16, 2018. Falak has a gene disorder and PTSD, she spoke to Jolie about seeing a man killed in front of her during the ISIS occupation of the city. Less than a year after its liberation, much of West Mosul still lies in ruins. (Photo by Andrew McConnell / UNHCR via Getty Images)

Angelina Jolie has appealed to the international community not to forget about the people of Mosul during a visit to the former ISIS stronghold in Iraq on Saturday.

Ms Jolie has visited the Arab country five times in her capacity as a special envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, since 2001.

The Oscar-winning actress, who is well known for her humanitarian work, met with families displaced by the conflict who have since returned to the city.

Mosul was ISIS’s de facto capital in Iraq and the operation to retake the city left its western area completely flattened.

Many residents who fled the militants are now returning to where their homes once stood only to find scenes of destruction.

Ms Jolie, who has visited a number of war-torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan, described the conditions as “appalling” and the destruction as “the worst devastation I have seen in all my years working with UNHCR”.

epa06812948 A handout photo made available by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie (L) meets with Mohamed and his family during a visit to the Old City in West Mosul, Iraq, 16 June 2018. During the offensive to retake the city from ISIS Mohamed’s house was hit by an airstrike killing his 17 year-old daughter and destroying most of the home. Together with his three surviving children and his wife, Mohamed fled to the home of a family friend, where they have been living ever since. However the host family can no longer support them and Mohamed may have to bring his family back to live in the ruins of their home.  EPA/Andrew McConnell / HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Speaking in front of the ruins of Al Nuri Mosque, she said: “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. After the unimaginable trauma of the occupation, they are now trying to rebuild their homes, often with little or no assistance.”

“I call on the international community not to forget Mosul, and not to turn their attention away from its people. We have learnt in Iraq before and elsewhere in the region the dangers of leaving a void. It is also what the families and survivors deserve,” she added.

The humanitarian worker met families held captive by ISIS in West Mosul during its occupation, including Falak an eight-year-old girl with PTSD and a gene disorder who saw a man killed in front of her, and Mohamed, whose 17-year-old daughter was killed by an airstrike during the offensive to retake the city.


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