A view of damaged buildings seen through the rain, in Raqqa, Syria, on Friday, May 11, 2018.
Seven months after ISIS was ousted from their capital, civilians are returning to rebuild their lives and homes. Without a visible presence of NGOs or strong support from the coalition because of ongoing security concerns, the city’s residents and civil council and municipality have taken it upon themselves to clean up the rubble and reopen stores in time for Ramadan. An estimated half of the 400,000 civilians - the number of people who were in the city before coalition airstrikes began last June — have returned to a city devastated by airstrikes, street battles, and unexploded ordinance, including mines and booby traps left behind by the extremist militias. Infrastructure like bridges connecting the northern and southern parts of the city have been destroyed, forcing people to use flimsy barges to transport their vehicles, crops, and other goods to the city center. Late rains this year have also compounded the city’s woes as it relies heavily on agriculture. Bodies also remain under the rubble, worsening fears that disease could easily break out as the weather becomes warmer.