After decades of armed conflict, the Colombian government has implemented a voluntary individual disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme (DDR). This paper is based on interviews of former combatants from illegal armed groups, from both the left and right, governmental officials, and military personnel involved in the processes. The findings of this research suggest that the individual demobilization process as a military strategy is a success. However, in order to strengthen the peace-building process, the programme needs to give more support to the socialization and re-socialization processes that former combatants experience. It needs to provide the former combatants with the skills needed to be economically and socially productive members of society. This will help them redefine their identity as civilians and undergo a successful reintegration and reconciliation.
This article is the result of a study carried out by IKV Pax Christi, a government programme that aims to demobilize combatants of the guerrilla and paramilitary and reintegrate them into Colombian society. The lessons learned during this research, regarding the failures of the government reintegration programme, have been of great use to the indigenous communities in northern Cauca. As a result, these communities have decided to start their own reintegration programme at the community level with an indigenous approach. This article summarizes the difficulties they encountered, and the lessons they learned.
A time limited dance/movement therapy group, facilitated by adult males, provided creative movement opportunities and other embodied healing activities for adolescent orphans who, as boys, had been involved in wartime atrocities. This fusion of Western trauma treatment and ritual proved transformative in helping the youths overcome violent impulses and rediscover the pleasure of collective endeavour. Engaging in symbolic expression through attunement and kinaesthetic empathy enabled the teenagers to reflect on their personal involvement in armed conflict in a way that encouraged enhanced awareness of belonging to the broader humanity. The intervention therefore fostered conditions that led participants to create a public performance highlighting their dual roles as both victims and perpetrators in the war. This, in turn, advanced their reconciliation within the local community.
The author trained 49 peer counsellors in two refugee camps, over the course of 2004, and traced the impact of their work until the end of 2005 at the request of CARE International in Jordan. The article gives an overview of the training content and strategies, as well as the process of integrating peer counselling as a self-help tool into a community that is affected by ongoing stress and trauma. ‘Peer counselling’ was understood as a process of mutual support that addresses people in need in their respective environment and also therefore includes components of community social work. The article highlights the main components of a culturally sensitive, client centred empowerment approach to psychosocial intervention in a situation of continuous deprivation and insecurity, as well as its challenges. Further details of the training will be presented in a separate publication.
The 20 year conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis. Agencies working in the sector of psychosocial support over the years have developed a concept to work closely with community members who are made responsible for many of the community based activities. This article describes the experiences of these community volunteer counsellors (CVCs).
Asylum requests by victims of torture who have fled to the Netherlands are often rejected. In these cases, the torture stories of the asylum seekers have failed to convince officials judging their asylum request. The author studied the cases of asylum seekers whose claims were first rejected, but then supported by Amnesty International, and eventually, after a court appeal, received residency. The author, therefore, concludes that the initial rejections are the result of the manner in which these asylum seekers were interrogated by civil servants of the immigration authority. These civil servants appear not to want to hear the details of torture, and their attitude colludes with a tendency in the asylum seekers to avoid discussing painful experiences.
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