Mosul’s Destroyed Bridges: A Major Challenge for Residents

Displaced people who fled ISIS militants, cross the bridge in Al-Muthanna neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
Displaced people who fled ISIS militants, cross the bridge in Al-Muthanna neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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Mosul’s Destroyed Bridges: A Major Challenge for Residents

Displaced people who fled ISIS militants, cross the bridge in Al-Muthanna neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
Displaced people who fled ISIS militants, cross the bridge in Al-Muthanna neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Few minutes are enough for student Ahmad Meyssar to cross the bridge over Tigris river in Mosul to reach his university, however, it takes him now over two hours to cover the distance after the bridge had been destroyed following the nine-month operation to retake the city from ISIS.

Iraq's second-largest city Nineveh, "90 percent" of the 70 bridges have been totally or partially destroyed, Marwan Abderrazaq from the local roads department told Agence-France Presse.

Some of Mosul's bridges were blown up by ISIS, while the others were destroyed by government forces and the firepower of a US-led coalition backing them up. A large number of the city's infrastructure, especially on the western side, has been fully destroyed following the liberation operations after ISIS controlled the city in June 2014.

Five months had passed since Mosul had been liberated, millions of residents in Mosul are still suffering following the disappearance of the bridges they used to rely on.

However now, thanks to support from the World Bank and United Nations, two temporary bridges have gone up in Mosul and three more are under construction.

Abderrazaq stated that a German team arrived in the governorate to assess the damages and set the plans to reconstruct Nineveh's seven bridges. Because of this team, student Meyssar now has a road to his university. But the limited options still mean that he still face major delays.

Meyssar stated that "to be sure of being on time for the start of lessons at university at eight in the morning," he needs to leave his home "at around 5:30 or six."

Hundreds of cars lined up as they queued to reach the other side on a recent morning, forming a traffic jam that stretched for several kilometers.

Fathiya Sobhi, 44, mother of two, stated that she carries one of her children on her shoulders to reach the other side of the river which takes her half an hour. She is making the crossing by foot as she "cannot afford the taxi fare" across.

The jams and delays crossing the river have forced taxi driver Yahya Ahmed, 37, to change the way he works. He has decided that from now on he is going to stick to the eastern side of the river where he lives and will no longer take passengers to the other bank.

Ahmed, father of six, stated that before citizens used to cross from one side to the other without thinking about it.

"But now it takes two-and-a-half hours so I just work on one side," added Ahmed.

Engineer Hussein Nabil, 40, who works in rebuilding the iron bridge, known as the "Old Bridge", says the restoration operations will take up to six months.

Nabil says the metallic structure, which ran across the center of Mosul since it was built in 1934, will be accessible to cars as of August meaning that it requires over a year after Baghdad announced Mosul's "liberation".



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.