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Challenges for Survivors of Anti-Personnel Mines in Post-Conflict Vista Hermosa, Colombia: Resilience, a Way for Improvement?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The research approach is an embedded-single case study, focusing on survivors of APM in Vista Hermosa, Colombia. The first unit of analysis discloses the current challenges of survivors in light of the historical and legal background.

The civilian population of Vista Hermosa was caught between the frontlines of the various fighting parties during the Colombian conflict. The demilitarized zone (DMZ) - active from 1999 to 2002 - left civilians in the municipality abandoned by the government; its termination let to a further increase of violence and significant anti-personnel mine (APM) contamination. After the Final Peace Agreement in 2016, illegal armed groups are still conducting violent attacks. The legal background presents a plurality of legislative instruments to regulate the necessary assistance to survivors of APM in Colombia. The most relevant international document in this regard is the Ottawa Convention which became effective in Colombia in 2001, enforced from 2011 by ‘The Victims’ Law’, its national counterpart.

Despite the comprehensive legal rights to rehabilitation and compensation, the empirical section of this study detects a variety of challenges for survivors of APM. Despite the fact that most APM accidents date back more than 10 years, many survivors still suffer from physical and psychological impairments. The poor local health infrastructure, the insurance companies and the lacking knowledge about rights often impeded survivors to access adequate recovery means. Additionally, compensation mechanisms do not function effectively. The violence during the conflict and the fear of reprisal acts often prevented survivors from claiming their compensation rights in the required timeframe. The bureaucratic and opaque procedures of the Unidad para las Victimas constitute a barrier which the survivors can often only overcome with judicial support. The inefficient assistance of the municipality in this regard often causes survivors to abandon their claims. 

The second unit of analysis of the research elaborates the humanitarian activities of Humanity and Inclusion and Pastoral Social on their ability to increase the resilience of the vulnerable group. The comprehensive assistance of the NGOs seeks to improve conditions for survivors of APM by empowering them in a sustainable manner. The approach offers adaptive capacities such as physical rehabilitation to solve immediate needs. However, most of the projects offer transformational capacities to tackle fundamental issues. Although much progress is still needed before it will be feasible to evaluate potential enduring improvement, intermediate results demonstrate enhanced resilience conditions of the benefiting survivors of APM. This approach is not functionally limited to Vista Hermosa or the beneficiary group of survivors of APM. The positive effects of the assistance can serve as an example for the wider humanitarian field. 

The research findings are mainly based on open-ended interviews which were conducted in 2017 during a four-month internship with Humanity and Inclusion in Vista Hermosa. More interviews were undertaken afterwards via Skype. In addition, the research is based on a literature review including academic findings, reports, and legal documents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 98
Keywords [en]
Survivors of Anti-Personnel Mines, Victims, Resilience, Vista Hermosa, Colombia
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-391337OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-391337DiVA, id: diva2:1344726
External cooperation
Humanity & Inclusion Colombia
Subject / course
International Humanitarian Action
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-08-21 Created: 2019-08-21 Last updated: 2019-08-21Bibliographically approved

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