Date: May 14, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Women pick up threads of shattered lives in Mosul
MOSUL, Iraq: In a workshop in a bombed-out factory in Mosul, Najlaa Abdel-Rahman joins scores of other women on a production line as they sew garments and try to knit their lives back together. The mother of three lost her husband during the war against Daesh (ISIS), which occupied the northern Iraqi city as the capital of its self-declared “caliphate” until government forces recaptured it in summer 2017. Abdel-Rahman also lost her Mosul home and now spends half of the salary she earns at the garment factory on getting to work.

“I have been working here for a while, this is my only work opportunity,” said Abdel-Rahman who, like many of her colleagues, is her family’s sole breadwinner.

Most of the site was destroyed in the fighting, but the International Organization for Migration has restored one section, where around 150 people, of whom 80 percent are women, now work - a fraction of the 1,020 it used to employ.

The factory’s foreman Nathem Sultan said the salaries might not always be enough. But for now it is all that the business, which has a contract with the state to manufacture hospital clothing, can afford.

“This salary they receive sometimes isn’t enough to feed them, but it is hope for a better life,” he said.

Most Mosul residents are struggling financially. Families who build their own homes go into debt while others cram into increasingly expensive rented accommodation. Foreign-funded projects suffer delays.

The 2019 state budget has allocated $560 million for the city’s reconstruction, according to two Mosul lawmakers. A U.N. adviser cited $1.8 billion as one estimate for a year’s rebuilding work.

Nearly 2 million Iraqis remain displaced due to the war against Daesh, according to a survey by non-governmental organization REACH.