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This article was first published 7 years ago  » News » This is no apocalypse film. It is life in Mosul.

This is no apocalypse film. It is life in Mosul.

By Monali Sarkar
March 17, 2017 13:48 IST
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As the Iraqi and American forces enter the final stages of the fight to take back Mosul from Islamic State, Monali Sarkar points out, 1 million people are expected to become refugees.
This is what a modern-day mass exodus looks like.

Mosul lead

Iraqi Special Forces comb through a street in West Mosul after it was taken back from Islamic State on March 4. Mosul had fallen to IS in 2014.

Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

The battle to win back this key Iraqi city from IS began in October 2016 and is now approaching its final stages.

Video: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Mosul 2

As Iraqi forces gain ground, a humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Mosul.

The photographer who shot this now iconic photograph says, 'Both screaming in terror, a father and the young daughter he cradled in his arm fled through the rubble-strewn streets of Wadi Hajar, transformed in a flash into a battleground between Islamic State fighters and Iraqi special forces.'

'They and their neighbours -- some wearing rubber sandals, some barefoot -- were running from an IS counter-attack in this part of Mosul, dodging gunfire as the militants closed in... The father was so beside himself, so panicked. I believe they will both be taken to a refugee camp.'

Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Mosul 3

It is a desperate scramble to escape IS and the crossfire...

Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters


... And the humiliation.

'When they reached the special forces lines,' the photographer recounts, 'males were ordered to lift their shirts to prove they weren't suicide bombers. Some had to take off their clothes or show their belts, though not those carrying children.'

Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters


UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies predict that 'more than 1 million people could be displaced by the offensive by Iraqi government forces to retake the country's second city.'

Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

Mosul 6

The displaced Iraqis mostly flee on foot.

Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters


Often abandoning even the necessities along the way.

Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters


It is a long, tough walk to the outskirts of the city...

Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters


... where they can board trucks and buses that will take them t0 the UN-run refugee camps.

Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters


The camps are fast running out of space. The UN is urgently setting up new camps...

Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Mosul refugee

... and expanding existing ones to shelter new arrivals, many of whom, they say, 'are visibly traumatised, hungry and dehydrated.'

Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Mosul refugee camp

The camp gives the refugees much needed safety, shelter, and basic amenities, but both them and the security officials are constantly on guard to make sure IS terrorists don't find a way in.

Photograph: Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters


For now -- and in all likelihood for a long time to come -- those displaced will remain in limbo. Much like the city they have left behind.

Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

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