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”.
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.