Flooding forces Mosul residents to flee war in rickety boats

(AFP)
Updated 07 May 2017

Flooding forces Mosul residents to flee war in rickety boats

MOSUL: The Iraqi man laid the body of his wife, wrapped in a black shroud, gently on the bow of a small wooden boat and held onto it as a second man rowed slowly to pick up the man’s three children standing a few meters away.
The two teenage girls and young boy climbed in, careful not to disturb the balance, for the crossing taking their mother, killed in an air strike this week, to the east bank of the Tigris River.
This crossing is no ancient rite, however.
It is an extra hardship heaped on the family by the flooding of the Tigris and the disassembly of the last pontoon bridge linking the two sides of Mosul, where US-backed Iraqi forces have been fighting to oust the Daesh militants who seized the city in 2014.
Loading up everything from clothes and food to injured or dead relatives, hundreds of families exhausted by war have been crossing the river on small, rickety fishing boats capable of holding only five or six people.
Many have been leaving the Musherfa district of western Mosul after US-backed Iraqi forces took it from Islamic State on Friday, hoping to reach the relative safety of the eastern banks of the river.
“We suffered Islamic State’s injustice, and now that we are free we were promised five bridges,” said 45-year-old Mushref Mohamed, an ice factory worker from Musherfa. “Where are the bridges? We have been waiting for two days.”
“So many of my neighbors and friends died. We were freed, but we are not happy because we lost the people closest to us.”
The flooding has cut off all crossing points between east and west and forced the military to dismantle the makeshift bridges linking the two sides of Iraq’s second-largest city.
Mothers carrying babies, men in wheelchairs, and families of up to 15 people have been paying 1,000 Iraqi dinars ($0.86) per head to make the short journey, with many needing to make two or three trips.
Even soldiers carrying green army crates full of military documents and cigarettes have had to use the boats. The army initially planned to transport people using steamboats when they took down the pontoons, but now say they have run out of gas.
“We came from the early morning at 7am and have been waiting until now. It is noon. The steamboats do not have gas. This government cannot provide gas?” asked Mohsen, a pensioner from the Wadi Hajar area in west Mosul.
Mosul’s permanent bridges have mostly been destroyed during the seven-month campaign to take the city back from Islamic State.
The army opened a new front in the war with an armored division trying to advance into the city from the north on Thursday and taking back two areas on Friday.
The militants are now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City, the medieval Grand Al-Nuri Mosque and its landmark leaning minaret where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” spanning swathes of Syria and Iraq in June 2014.
The Iraqi army said on April 30 that it aimed to complete the retaking of Mosul, the largest city to have fallen under Islamic State control in both Iraq and Syria, this month.


Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

Updated 04 July 2020

Egypt arrests alleged serial sexual predator

  • Allegations have been widely circulating on social media detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man
  • Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested a man who allegedly sexually abused dozens of girls and women, in a case that has sparked outrage online, a security source said.
Allegations have been widely circulating on social media since Wednesday detailing horrific sexual abuse and related blackmail suffered by women at the hands of the same man.
One allegation claimed that he attempted to abuse a 14-year-old girl.
“The person accused of harassing the girls has been arrested and will be facing the prosecution following the allegations carried on social media,” the security source said.
“Those affected should submit formal reports of the harm they endured,” the source added.
The source did not identify the suspect.
According to the social media reports, the first of which was published on an Instagram account, the abuse had been going on since at least 2018.
Trending hashtags carrying the alleged abuser’s name widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook, urging government action.
Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) lodged an official complaint with the public prosecutor to investigate the allegations on Saturday.
“The NCW has followed the social media account on Instagram, which was launched by girls and women complaining that a man raped some of them and sexually assaulted and harassed others,” it said on Facebook.
It also said that several victims, who reached out to the council, recounted that the man “blackmailed and threatened to defame them using photos and clips documenting his heinous crimes.”
The council urged the women to submit official complaints to the prosecutor.
Some online reports suggested the perpetrator was a university student.
The American University in Cairo acknowledged the suspect had studied there but said he left the university in 2018.
He “is not a current student at the American University in Cairo,” a statement said.
Sexual harassment is highly prevalent in Egypt.
United Nations surveys have found that most Egyptian women have been subject to harassment, ranging from catcalling to pinching and groping.
Egyptian authorities have criminalized sexual harassment since 2014, but many women complain that the problem remains rampant.