Green grass and blue sky as far as you can see. The sun is shining and we are surrounded by nature. Northern Iraq is stunning. But its beauty is deceiving. Almost nothing is left in Bashiqa and its surrounding areas, once famous for olive trees. Almost 12,000 people from different religious backgrounds – Christian, Muslim, Yazidi – used to peacefully live in the small town in Northern Iraq. Today, we can only find 258 families, who returned to the once lively city after it was retaken. The streets are empty. Houses are either damaged or destroyed. We are merely 15 kilometers away from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and one of the key battlegrounds in the country. The ground is not shaking from fighting today for a change.
Families returning to Bashiqa pretty much lack everything. The city’s infrastructure, including water, electricity and health networks, are destroyed. The extent of destruction is overwhelming.