Raqqa’s rebirth gives hope

This report by Nûjiyan Adar was published by ANF English on 13 February, 2024

Raqqa has taken steps to recover from the devastating effects of ISIS occupation and war. The change and transformation in the city give hope.

Raqqa, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is the fourth-largest city in Syria and has historical and cultural significance. Although it suffered great damage during the ISIS occupation, it has been trying to return to its former self and become a city of hope with reconstruction efforts in recent years.

People living under ISIS occupation faced severe oppression and persecution as torture and executions became commonplace. Raqqa’s infrastructure and historical artefacts were severely damaged. Women in particular were subjected to ISIS’ imposition of slavery. They were forced to follow ISIS’ mentality of religion and rules. Their right to education was taken away from them and they were completely excluded from business life. They were forbidden to leave their homes alone and walk around. Women suffered not only physically but also mentally.

Women are now free

In Raqqa liberated from ISIS, women are looking to the future with hope again. The reconstruction process in the city after the destruction offers new opportunities for women. Women can now freely receive education, participate in business life and play an active role in all areas of society. Women, who are involved in every institution and organization, are happy to regain their freedom in the city, where times full of hope for the future have begun. Enjoying their freedom, women cannot hide their happiness as they are no longer under fear and pressure, and enjoy walking freely on the streets. Amidst the destroyed buildings, smiling women and cheerful children can now walk freely on the streets, and women can spend time with their children in parks. It reflects the positive change that the liberation of the city has brought to people’s lives and their expectations for a future full of hope.

Children are happy too

Children have faced great hardships under the brutal rule of ISIS, whose repressive and radical ideology has deeply affected children’s lives. Their right to education was taken away, schools were closed, and they were forced into education programs based on religious extremism. Basic childhood activities such as playing games, running in the streets and having fun were not possible due to the fear and oppression of ISIS. Children were exposed to ISIS propaganda and forced to grow up with violent videos and images. In the city liberated from ISIS, a hopeful period has begun for children. The reconstruction process offered children the opportunity to study, play and live a normal childhood. Children who used to jump rope, play soccer and hide-and-seek on the streets, hold their mothers’ hands and go to the market, are growing up in a safe and healthy living environment with the reconstruction of the city after the destruction. Children can now go to school, play games and look to the future with hope. After dark days, children are opening the doors to a sunny future again.

Traces of war in every corner

The traces of war are clearly visible in every corner of Raqqa. Ruined buildings, collapsed infrastructure and piles of rubble have dramatically altered the city’s skyline. The remnants of the war are a reminder of the city’s history and the suffering of its people, but there is also a sense of revitalisation and recovery. In the midst of the painful traces of war, people feel deeply that a hopeful future awaits them as they carry on with their lives. The city is being cleared of rubble step by step, residents start work early in the morning and life does not stop until late at night.

Erasing the traces of war

The change in Raqqa is palpable. Instead of destroyed buildings, reconstructed and repaired structures are rising. Infrastructure work in the city is progressing rapidly and life has returned to normal. People are working hard to heal the wounds of war and revitalise the city. Markets, streets and parks are bustling again. The change in Raqqa is moving towards a future full of hope. The city is in an effort to erase the traces of war and restore its former beauty.