Fallujah: Scant Signs of Recovery
Six years after United-States forces laid siege to the city, it remains scarred by the conflict. Many bomb-damaged buildings are uninhabitable and public utilities are in need of renovation.
At the gates of Fallujah, a man rides past blast walls in his horse and cart - the preferred mode of transport for those who cannot afford cars or pick-up trucks. The city’s economy has not recovered since 2004, when its streets were the scene of battles between United States-led forces and Sunni Arab insurgents. Though security has improved in Fallujah, the scars of the conflict remain. Buildings such as this, in the main marketplace, were pummeled by bombs and remain uninhabitable. Entry into Fallujah is tightly controlled. Those who cannot prove they are residents of the city usually require some form of official permission to enter. Fallujah lies in the Sunni Arab heartland of Anbar province, west of Baghdad, and had a long tradition of supplying soldiers to Saddam Hussein’s military. The city and the region around it were eventually stabilised after the United States military equipped a tribal militia, known as the Awakening Council, to take on the hardline factions of the insurgency. Some of the militiamen were promised jobs in the official security forces. A young boy and his father ride in a car damaged during the fighting. Inhabitants of Fallujah complain that they have yet to be compensated by the authorities for property damaged during the conflict. Some families left homeless by the conflict have made dwellings for themselves in buildings wrecked by the fighting. Fallujah desperately needs new homes, as well as major renovation of its sewage and electricity networks. A street with new vehicles and brightly lit shops suggests some commerce is returning to the city. Many Fallujans believe the success of secular and nationalists politicians in recent elections will improve their lot.