Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid this week.
The festival marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. People feast, visit friends and relatives and go shopping in the days before the festival.
The people of Falluja
The traditional image of Eid celebrations is far from the current reality experienced by the people of Falluja.
Forced to flee their homes by the conflict raging in their city, they live in makeshift camps like the one at Ameriyat al-Falluja.
The civilians living at the government-run camps make up around a third of what was Falluja’s total population before ISIL overran the city two-and-a-half years ago.
“Eid has no appeal for me anymore”
Ahmed Omar lost a leg in the conflict.
“Eid for us is no different from any other day, because all of us are suffering. I am suffering because of the leg I have lost, my brother is sad for his son, my other brother is sad about his son-in-law that passed away.”
“Eid has no appeal for me anymore. It is just like any other day.”
Um Omar is living in a tent with her young family:
“How can I celebrate Eid away from my city,” she asks through her tears.
Um Ahmed says the situation is a tragedy
for her family:
“We have no electricity, we have to stand in a long line to get water, the weather is very dusty now and we can’t close the tent because it is very hot. We are not even observing the fast this year.”
What happened in Falluja?
- More than 85,000 fled their homes
- Month-long military campaign ended in June
- Iraqi authorities claim to have recaptured the city from ISIL
Refugees) <a href="https://twitter.com/Refugees/status/747199528500072448">June 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </p> <p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We urgently need US$17.5 million to meet needs of thousands of civilians fleeing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Falluja?src=hash">#Falluja</a> <a href="https://t.co/pcIUYGEXfR">https://t.co/pcIUYGEXfR</a> <a href="https://t.co/818MICeMpv">pic.twitter.com/818MICeMpv</a></p>— UN Refugee Agency (Refugees) June 23, 2016
When can they go home?
The UN says the Iraqi authorities will allow civilians displaced by the fighting in Falluja to start returning to their homes as early as August.
Refugees</a> warns Iraq not to force displaced civilians back to explosives-riddled Fallujah <a href="https://t.co/ysORc6EBtr">https://t.co/ysORc6EBtr</a> <a href="https://t.co/LUn8ek8G1B">pic.twitter.com/LUn8ek8G1B</a></p>— Gerry Simpson (GerrySimpsonHRW) July 4, 2016
In the city itself, elite Iraqi counter-terrorism troops are clearing any booby-traps left by ISIL.
The fighters themselves have fled, leaving their weapons behind.
Clearing the houses is a slow and painstaking process.