Broken Cities: From ruins to hope, a virtual journey of resilience and renewal
Across the world, millions are touched by urban conflict, directly or indirectly, through ongoing challenges, family ties, migration, or past experiences. In armed conflict, warring parties don't protect civilians and civilian property as they should do under International Humanitarian Law.
From Syria to Yemen, Gaza to Iraq, Sudan to Ukraine, urban warfare's devastating impact is increasingly being felt. While calls for action abound, significant change remains elusive. To bridge the gap between those untouched by war and those forever changed by it, the ICRC invites you to step into the captivating world of Broken Cities, where stories of endurance and revival unfold.
From empathy to action
This immersive journey offers a chance to revive civilian structures shattered by war in Aleppo, Mosul and Gaza. The meticulously crafted three-dimensional photogrammetric models give voice to their former inhabitants that once thrived within them.
Broken Cities is a wake-up call, a plea to rethink approaches to urban conflict and prioritize the protection of civilians. It shines a light on the collective role of authorities and the international community in minimizing civilian suffering. It's a message that warring parties must heed, as we confront them with the full weight of the suffering they inflict when disregarding the rules of war.
About the Project
Broken Cities employs cutting-edge photogrammetry, a non-contact, non-destructive technique, that precisely captures three-dimensional features of spaces and objects through thousands of photographs. These photographs were taken by ICRC field teams during the summer of 2022, using drones and handheld cameras, ensuring every angle and detail of each structure was captured.
A combination of photography, technology and real-life stories, Broken Cities creates a captivating journey, serving as a catalyst for understanding, introspection, and meaningful change at the individual, collective and policy levels.
A tapestry of narratives
Through a mix of evocative multimedia exhibits, including interviews, maps, data, local photos, and footage, viewers come face-to-face with the personal narratives of individuals who embody strength amid adversity. Faiz, Satha, Safwan, Muneeb, Omar, Haj, Seba, Hassan, Feryal, and Imad lay bare their firsthand experiences of urban conflict and their relentless struggle to rebuild their lives.
- Aleppo Old Bazaar, Syria: A city's identity buried in the ruins of an historic market. More than a market, the working souk represented urban life in Aleppo. Its ruins now stand for the destruction warfare can bring upon a city's identity, culture, heritage, and economy. Haj, Seba, and Hassan's stories illuminate the importance of safeguarding cultural property amid conflict.
- Mosul Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital, Iraq: How medical care became a casualty of war shows how Faiz, Muneeb, Safwan, Satha, and Omar single-handedly maintained hospital services, shedding light on the pivotal role of health care facilities in conflict zones.
- Housing Tower in Gaza: Families' hopes and memories lost in bombed apartment block bears witness to the toll of homelessness and displacement in the aftermath of May 2021 hostilities. Imad and Feryal's voices resonate, highlighting the urgent need to protect civilian homes and offer psychosocial support to conflict survivors.
A commitment to remembrance and change
Broken Cities aims to ensure that the enduring aftermath of urban warfare is never erased from public consciousness. While Aleppo, Gaza, and Mosul once dominated headlines, the ongoing needs of those who strive to rebuild their lives too often go unnoticed.
This immersive experience serves as a reminder that these stories cannot fade into obscurity. The plight of these cities is a chilling preview of the challenges that may await others, like Sudan and Ukraine, if their struggles are forgotten.