Photos: Iraq’s IDPs continue to wait to return home

Mosul, Iraq – Landing in Iraq now means visiting a country where peace has not yet been able to remove the spirit of the war.

You are welcomed by chaotic cities and their dusty and congested streets. Bored soldiers at checkpoints remind us of past dangers and make us imagine future ones.

Those past dangers are most obvious in Mosul.

It is estimated that the 2016-2017 battle of Mosul, once the largest city under ISIL (ISIS) control, was one of the bloodiest clashes since the end of the second world war.

An intense bombing campaign by a United States-led coalition, carried out to encircle Mosul completely and tighten the grip on ISIL fighters, has left clear signs: kilometres and kilometres of destruction and rubble that today – five years after the end of the battle – have still not yet been removed.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to find refuge in camps.

However, once hostilities ended, it has not been possible for everyone to go back to their previous life. Explosions and fighting have left indelible changes to cities and society at large.

For many people, the effect of the war is not over. Thousands of people still live in camps for the internally displaced.

They cannot go home for many reasons. Perhaps their house has been completely or partially destroyed, or they have tensions with other inhabitants in their village.

In any case, the war has changed the structure of the society itself.

In Tikrit, Thaer Khaleel Sahan told Al Jazeera that he has no means to rebuild his house, and that he cannot find a job.

Afrah Aswad Mohamad has a home to return to, but her community refuses to accept her because her husband was a prominent supporter of ISIL. Afrah says that her husband’s choices should not fall on her and that the chapter should now be closed, as she says neither she nor her children represent a danger to the community.

But her neighbours, who suffered under ISIL, do not agree, preventing her from returning home and effectively forcing her to remain in a camp.

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