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Urban resilience

resilience /rɪˈzɪlɪəns/

1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

More than 80% of Mosul’s old city was destroyed during the “Mosul battle”. A year after the liberation of the Iraqi capital of the “caliphate”, the city center still looks like a pile of ruins. Secular buildings, mosques, churches and houses have been bombed by the so-called “Islamic State” group, targeted by planes of the Coalition, or damaged by hundreds of bullets.

Yet, in the middle of the rubbles, on the ground floor of buildings that have been almost entirely destroyed, you will sometimes find the prettiest little store. Carefully painted, with a brand new sign. And never mind the fact that the upstairs floors look just about to fall completely down.

In many countries, few people would still manage to open a store in such a destroyed environment. Yet, in Mosul, people do. They have no much choice, they cannot really afford to wait, to cry, to give up. So they put the rubble aside – even though it’s all around them – and set up their shop with care.

Talking with a Red Cross psychologist about this subject, she had the following sentence: “the same happens on a psychic level: people put all this pain aside, and work on the pretty little shop” inside their mind.

This is a story of urban resilience. This is a story of Iraqi resilience.