Image Arianna Pagani / Ozy

Text by Sara Manisera

A year after Iraq’s government declared victory over the Islamic State, it’s still battling militants affiliated with terrorists across the country. But in the shadows of that lingering conflict, a new generation of Iraqi youth — who’ve grown up since the 2003 start of the U.S.-led war — is trying to redefine their country’s cultural identity, starting with the capital, Baghdad.

Baghdad has seen a number of attacks by Islamic State militants over the past five years. The city’s Al-Karrada neighborhood, a commercial and upper-middle-class district seen above from the rooftop of a traditional house there…


Text Sara Manisera
Photos Arianna Pagani
For IRIN News

More than a year after Raqqa was liberated from so-called Islamic State, tens of thousands of people who returned to a devastated city are still struggling to rebuild, and basic services — especially for women and children — are notably lacking.

After Kurdish forces and airstrikes from a US-led coalition ousted IS from Raqqa last October — the group still holds some territory in Syria — more than 166,000 people returned to the city and its surrounding villages, according to the UN. …


On a warm afternoon in early March, a group of female poets gathered in Ridha Alwan, a coffee house in Baghdad’s middle-class Karrada neighbourhood.

When Ridha Alwan first opened in the 1960s, it was the first café to serve roasted coffee in Baghdad. It has since become a bustling hub for the creative vanguard of the city’s political and cultural scene and a safe haven for women.

In a country where being female and having your work published rarely goes hand in hand, a fresh generation of women has chosen to overlook limiting social norms and instead follow in the…


Nine months after the liberation of Raqqa from ISIS, the northern Syrian city lies in a heap of debris. Some buildings are crumpled in on themselves, punctured by protruding metal beams and drooping electric wiring, others are just skeletons of what were once people’s homes. On the dusty streets, the burnt carcasses of cars and chunks of plaster are strewn everywhere.

Raqqa fell to ISIS in January 2014, becoming the group’s de-facto capital. For more than three years the city was ruled by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi’s men. In October 2017, following a four-month siege, Raqqa was recaptured by a…


It was almost midday when Father Paolo Dall’Oglio knocked on the gate of the Raqqa governor’s building. The father, a meditative 58-year-old Italian who had been in Syria for years, asked the guards in front of the elegant brick building if he could meet the emir. After a discussion, they told him to come back after evening prayer.

It was summer 2013, and two years into Syria’s civil war, Raqqa was the sole provincial capital to have fallen since the start of the uprising. …


Asseguda en una lluminosa sala d’estar, al districte grec ortodox de Geitawi, la Fadwa Mahmoud joguineja amb un penjoll en forma d’oreneta. És refinada, té una mirada forta i unes arrugues marcades pel dolor i el temps suspès. Malgrat que han passat gairebé sis anys, encara porta l’aliança al dit i recorda amb claredat aquell dia a final d’estiu.

Era a casa seva, a Damasc, fent un plat tradicional del Llevant, quan el seu fill Maher li va trucar per darrera vegada. «Som al cotxe, venim cap a casa. Acabo de recollir el pare a l’aeroport», recorda que li va…


Fadwa Mahmoud, one of the founders of Families for Freedom, displays a photograph of her and her son Maher, who disappeared along with her husband Abdulaziz Al-Kheir in Syria in 2012. (Arianna Pagani)

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The last time Fadwa Mahmoud heard the voice of her son, Maher, she was bustling around the kitchen, cooking. She had planned to go to the airport to meet her husband, but had decided instead to stay…


Fotografia di Arianna Pagani tratta dal reportage realizzato a Jinwar, in Siria.

Negli ultimi anni, e ancor più negli ultimi mesi, il tema dei diritti delle donne si è fatto sempre più urgente e diffuso. Ma la strada da fare per approdare a una vera uguaglianza è ancora molta. Per questo, noi di i-D abbiamo scelto di dedicare la settimana dell’8 marzo alle donne che oggi lottano per rendere il mondo un posto migliore per tutte noi, lasciando spazio alle loro voci e ai loro racconti.

Quando chiamo Sara e Arianna sono comodamente seduta alla mia scrivania, a Milano. Loro…


In pictures: Click here for Arianna Pagani’s photoblog
from the Ashti clinic [Arianna Pagani]

Ashti is the Kurdish word for peace. It’s also the name of a brightly painted two-storey clinic, packed with women waiting to see the gynecologist.Other than a few posters in the waiting room warning against child marriage, drawings of nursing mothers liven up the peeling paint. A bird escaping from its cage is painted on another wall, symbolising regained freedom.

Heavily pregnant women sit with elderly relatives. Other women chase their children who run through the corridors. While some wear an abaya, or floral hijabs, others sit unveiled, their heads bare.

All were waiting for the door to open and…


Coming together to treat women in desperate need of gynecological attention, two women displaced from Mosul built a clinic in the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region. Photos by Arianna Pagani.

Dr Huda, a Sunni Muslim, and Rawnaq, an Assyrian Christian, both fled their homes in Mosul when militants from the Islamic State group captured the city as it overran swathes of Iraq in June 2014. Both medical practitioners, like many of the women they treat, are internally displaced people.

The pair set up this clinic together. Every day they tend to the needs of dozens of women fleeing from the…

Arianna Pagani

Independent Photographer

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