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Case 10 “On Civilian Harm”: Forced displacement

Land disputes have been one of the central features of conflict in Colombia since the 1980s. Paramilitaries executed and abducted community leaders in order to instil fear in the Cesar region’s peasant communities, and to compel civilians to flee their homes and lands. In so doing, the paramilitaries cleared the lands for their supporters or could sell the land at great profit to multinational coal-mining companies. To this day, many people suffer psychosocial distress from past events and continue to be displaced. The chapter "Forced displacement: Paramilitary violence against the campesinos of El Toco (Colombia, 1997)" shows both the overall impact of the conflict, as well as its effects on civilians. It brings into focus the too often neglected impact of long-term displacement as a direct result of violent conflict, and shows how violence in the late nineties continues to negatively impact people’s lives to this day.

In ‘On Civilian Harm’, we explore the ways in which civilians are negatively affected by violent conflict, offer tools and language to discuss the phenomenon, make practical recommendations for civilian harm mitigation and raise questions for further debate. The book contains in-depth analysises of 13 particular events in which harm to civilians occurred as a consequence of use of armed violence. Taken together, they contribute to an increased understanding of the variety and complexity of civilian harm at a conceptual level, bringing out common traits and patterns on civilian harm in violent conflict.

About this report

Date of publication:

Jun 10, 2021


Daniel Gómez Uribe
(Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam)


PAX Protection of Civilians

More about the book 'On Civilian Harm'
Case 10 “On Civilian Harm”: Forced displacement

Jun 10, 2021, Daniel Gómez Uribe

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