Transition from a Conflict Affected to a Post-Conflict Setting A Qualitative Study on Two Resettled Sinhala Communities in Post Conflict Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Sangasumana Thera

Abstract


The global issue of conflict-induced displacement is considered a perpetualcatastrophe for the people who are forced to leave their material possessions due toinsecurity driven by armed conflict. According to the nature and sequence of theconflict, they may have to find temporary refuge for several years pending return totheir places of origin. Perhaps, even in the post conflict situation, resettlement of thedisplaced may be undermined. This is more or less the situation experienced by theresettled conflict-induced Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka today.Unlike the Tamil and Muslim IDPs, most of the Sinhala IDPs from the conflict affectedperipheral villages have already returned to their places of origin, after the defeat of theLTTE in May 2009. But they are still struggling to counter the negative consequencesof the prolonged armed conflict. Hence, it is timely and relevant to understand themanner of their transition from a conflict affected to a post-conflict setting and toidentify the issues and challenges faced by them during the transition stage. The successof various actors in resettling IDPs depends to a large extent on how the IDPs adjust orescape from a conflict to a post-conflict setting. A key problem in this equation is thatthe resettlement actors focus primarily on homelessness and destitution. Hence thispaper argues that a durable solution for resettlement cannot be found solely through theprovision of material support. Such assistance programmes should comprehensivelyaddress the challenges faced by IDPs in re-establishing their normal life. To understandwhy this is so, this paper attempts to identify the transitional issues and copingstrategies, through the experiences of two resettled Sinhala communities struggling torebuild their socioeconomic and cultural life. For this purpose, a qualitativeinvestigation was carried out in two villages in the North Central and Eastern Provincesof Sri Lanka. Research results brought out four types of transitional issues faced byresettlers viz. ensuring security, sustaining livelihoods, socio-cultural adaptation andpolicy implementation. However the level of success of the transition process is arelative one and depends on the attitudes and capabilities of resettled IDPs. The paperĀ also focuses on the multi faceted coping strategies adopted by them in transiting from aconflict to a post-conflict situation.

Key words: Displacement, Resettlement, Transitional issues, Coping strategies


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