Since Qayyarah was retaken from ISIL, the town’s maternity hospital has been serving women across the region.
Retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in August 2016, the town of Qayyarah has one of the main maternity hospitals in the region. It was used by ISIL to treat its casualties for months, but nowadays, Iraqi people are coming to Qayyarah hospital from throughout the region to give birth by caesarean section.
Each day, about 10 children are born here, said Dr Eman Norri: “We give birth by caesarian two out of 10 times. It is the women of the internally displaced people’s camps who need caesarean sections the most, because they are often underfed, walked for long hours and went through psychological shocks.”
The Women and Health Alliance International, which is leading the project, is one of the only NGOs in this part of northern Iraq that specialises in reproductive health, employing more than 450 Iraqis.
Maryam Nazar, a doctor who previously worked in an ISIL-run hospital in Mosul, noted that the facility had been lacking equipment and medicine. She is proud to have moved on to the Qayyarah hospital: “It is almost like being a humanitarian worker, because the women suffered a lot with ISIL.”
Qayyarah hospital felt into ISIL’s hands a few months before its official inauguration. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Seven months after Qayyarah was retaken from ISIL, war remains on everyone’s mind. Next to Qayyarah hospital, two Iraqi girls pass by a drawing of military tanks. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Nurse Miriam Ali Hussen, 55, is a native of Qayyarah. ‘In the emergencies section, it regularly happens that former ISIL members, who still are among the population, pretend to be regular civilians in order to be treated,’ she says. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Qayyarah hospital is one of the only maternity hospitals in the region to practise caesarean sections. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Medical staff who worked under ISIL described some of the mandatory fees paid by patients: 2,000 Iraqi dinars ($1.7) to enter the hospital, 5,000 ($4.2) a day to have a bed, and 75,000 ($64) for a caesarian. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Each day, about 10 newborn children are registered in Qayyarah hospital. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
For birth by caesarean section, the mother remains for 24 hours in the maternity ward. For natural births, women usually stay one or two hours, before going back home. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Most of the medical staff worked under ISIL, including Dr Maryam Nazar, 25, centre. Right after her neighbourhood was retaken, she burned the black clothes that ISIL forced her to wear at the hospital. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
ISIL imposed a strict dress code for women living in its controlled territories: a niqab with veiled eyes, abaya, gloves and black socks. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Shahad Muthanah, one of the nurses of Qayyarah hospital, also lived in Mosul when ISIL occupied the city. One day, she went out with red shoes and was forced to pay a 50,000-dinar ($42) fine. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Sarah Ibrahim, 19, was awaiting the birth of her third child; her first two died a few months after their births. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
When the Iraqi army liberated Qayyarah in August 2016, the hospital was partially blown up. ‘In a few months, we hope we can renovate the two upper floors,’ said Dr Mahjid Ramadan, director of the hospital. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
‘Qarrayah remains unstable,’ Hussen said. ‘A woman can arrive at the maternity ward pretending to be pregnant and wearing an explosive belt.’ [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
While escaping Qayyarah, ISIL members set a number of oil fields bordering the city on fire. Since then, the inhabitants have had to live with toxic smoke and black clouds. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]
Qayyarah’s walls still carry the stigma of ISIL’s occupation, including this ISIL flag, today partially covered by silvery tags. [Sebastian Castelier/Al Jazeera]