Iraq News

Volunteers in Fallujah wipe away years of ISIL rule

By Saif Ahmed in Anbar

Fallujah cleaning crews remove rubble and debris from the streets as life gradually returns to the city after the ouster of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Saif Ahmed/Diyaruna]

Fallujah cleaning crews remove rubble and debris from the streets as life gradually returns to the city after the ouster of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Saif Ahmed/Diyaruna]

A large-scale cleaning campaign is under way in the city of Fallujah to clear its streets of the waste and debris left behind after more than two years of "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) rule.

A group of civil and humanitarian organisations, with the participation of young volunteers from Fallujah, are taking part in a three-month campaign to clean the streets and squares of the city, paint pavements and plant flowers and evergreen trees.

The local government and municipality have allocated several vehicles and garbage compressors to transfer the waste to landfill sites outside city limits in support of the volunteer campaign, Ahmed Salem of the Anbar municipality directorate told Diyaruna.

"This is one of the most important youth campaigns and it has had a positive impact on driving a large number of Fallujah residents to participate in it," he said.

A team effort

"This volunteer campaign was launched with the participation of civil and humanitarian organisations and the support of Fallujah residents and is not linked to any political party or partisan bloc," said campaign organiser Mohammed al-Rawi.

The campaign's goal is to clean Fallujah, engage young people in the effort and support the government’s efforts in this regard, he told Diyaruna.

Government institutions have also been working restlessly to resume services and establish security after the vast destruction that ISIL had caused.

Iraqi troops have secured the area around the piles of garbage that had amassed throughout the city and searched them for any explosive remnants of war before garbage trucks took the waste away, al-Rawi said.

Municipal staff and workers from the Water and Sewage Authority have also been handing out special trash bags to homes and shops, and distributing large trash cans around the city.

"As part of the campaign, the Fallujah municipality provided various containers for waste collection to local residents, some for plastic waste and some for metal," said Ibrahim Awad al-Jumaili, another campaign organiser.

"Fallujah youth, dignitaries, and even teaching staff and students are all participating in cleaning their neighbourhoods, schools and public areas on a voluntary basis," he said, adding that efforts are under way to repair several ruined gates of sewage networks.

The campaign covers all of Fallujah, and soon other volunteer cleaning campaigns will be launched in other Anbar cities liberated from ISIL, he told Diyaruna.

Rebuilding and rehabilitating damaged services and projects and restoring life to Fallujah does not have to be a government endeavour alone, but should involve all citizens, said Saleh Mahmoud al-Nuaimi, one of the volunteer in the Fallujah campaign.

"Today, we need everybody to unite and come together to restore our areas to the way they used to be," he told Diyaruna.

Wiping away ISIL rule

"The people of Fallujah have greatly co-operated with campaign workers, as they collected waste and debris and helped designated vehicles remove them, and they planted trees and flowers in the squares and on the sidewalks," he said.

The Fallujah campaign also included removing the posters and monuments that ISIL left behind before it fled the city, and repainting the pavements, which were painted black by the militants, he said.

The cleaning campaign is "massive", said Fallujah resident Hassan Daoud al-Shaabani, 44. "I was glad to see youths and men working to remove waste and even ruined houses debris, hand out trash bags and specify areas to place the large trash cans."

"The current stage requires more campaigns to clean and rehabilitate the schools, open roads and repair the holes in main and side roads that were caused when improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other explosives planted by ISIL blew up in the past few years," he added.

"We need more youth volunteer campaigns such as this one in Fallujah and all the cities of Anbar, with support from the local government, so that they can help restore life in the province," he said.

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