“I was playing football with friends when a bomb exploded right under my feet. They took me to the hospital: both my legs and also the lower part of my left arm were amputated.”
Kaum was just 14 when in 2014 he fled the village of Bartalla, 20km east of Mosul, as the Islamic State group began its rampage across Iraq. For three years, he lived in a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. In December 2017, he finally returned home and his daily life was slowly returning to normality – when he accidentally detonated an explosive remnant.
His life was changed forever.
“I can’t go to school anymore because I am still traumatised. My friends are helping me, they always give me a ride to go out with them, but I know I will never be able to play football with them again.”
We met Kaum at the East Mosul rehabilitation centre. His story details an emergency inside the emergency. A year after its liberation, the area surrounding Iraq’s second largest city remains a ticking time-bomb.
According to UN Habitat, eight million tons of explosive remnants contaminate the city.
Thousands of people have been injured returning home from camps for the displaced.
“It is very difficult for those who return to rebuild their homes because under the rubble there are still many IEDs, explosive devices and remnants. IEDs were mainly home-made by [the Islamic State group] and for this reason they are even more dangerous,” says Hawar Mustafa, programme coordinator at Emergency, an Italian NGO.
Prosthetic clinics have teamed up after the maunfacturer’s factory was targeted [Laura Cappon]
Mustafa coordinates the emergency rehab centre in Sulemaniya, which coordinates with its partner in Mosul to provide prosthetic limbs after the local factory that produced them was hit, seriously compromising production.
The emergency center in Sulemaniya still receives a high number of patients from Mosul. Mahfouz is one.
He was walking with his son through the streets of Bab Sinjar’s old district in Mosul when an explosive device inside a nearby car detonated due to a small fire.
“Since I lost my leg,