Mosul: A City Destroyed

Eben, part of our field administration team in Iraq, visits a hospital that's trying to meet the needs of a city that has already suffered so much...

I recently had to conduct a working visit to the Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) medical project in Nablus, West Mosul. This part of the city bore the brunt of the coalition’s final onslaught against the Islamic State group (IS) and the destruction is evident everywhere.

As we drove through the neighbourhood I noticed the bullet-riddled walls of those structures still standing and there is literally not one street block where there is not partial or near-complete destruction.


The first thing I am struck by as we pull into the MSF medical facility are the friendly smiles and warm greetings from the MSF watchmen. These are colleagues from the local community employed by MSF to assist with our safety.

It takes a multi-disciplinary team of committed experts to operate a medical facility of this kind

Instantly I know I am “home”.

This is the same friendly and committed MSF family I encounter in every project. Local and international colleagues with one goal in mind: providing the best possible healthcare to communities in need.


a mother and her child in the MSF hospital in Mosul
Three-year-old Saud is treated for a fever and breathing difficulties.

During my security and context briefing from the project coordinator, the stark reality of what I have witnessed on my drive here is accentuated.

It is estimated that around 54,000 homes need to be rebuilt and 7.6 million tonnes (1.5 million truck-loads) of rubble needs to be removed.

It will take years to rebuild the city.

Why we are here

The MSF team consists of around 400 Iraqi and 14 international staff colleagues.

As we walk through the medical facility, I noticed the patients, mostly mothers and their children, in the waiting rooms. Despite the harsh reality of their living conditions, there are instantly warm smiles when they see my colleagues from the medical team. This small gesture validates to me why we are here.

During the first six months of 2019 our medical facility here was hard at work, as the numbers clearly demonstrate: 20,152 emergency room consultations, 1,192 paediatric admissions, 697 mental health consultations, 3,583 births, of which 487 were c–sections.

It takes a multi-disciplinary team of committed experts to operate a medical facility of this kind.

A special group of people

Later, seeing the devastation again as we drive out of West Mosul, I am reminded of the many discussions I overheard from my colleagues in the hospital here. So many of the conversations were about how to make things better or how to effectively manage the various challenges the team faces in a context like this.

I take comfort in the knowledge that there are a special group of people devoting all their combined energy and skill to make living in this city a little better for its citizens.

The need is great. Please consider donating to MSF, today. We cannot do what we do without your generous support!


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