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Soc Sci Med. 2002 Jul;55(2):175-90.

Political violence, ethnic conflict, and contemporary wars: broad implications for health and social well-being.

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1
Douglas Hospital Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Que., Canada. peddun@douglas.mcgill.ca

Abstract

Ethnic conflict, political violence and wars that presently shape many parts of world have deep-seated structural causes. In poor and highly indebted countries, economic and environmental decline, asset depletion, and erosion of the subsistence base lead to further impoverishment and food insecurity for vast sectors of the population. Growing ethnic and religious tensions over a shrinking resource base often escort the emergence of predatory practices, rivalry, political violence, and internal wars. The nature of armed conflict has changed substantially over time and most strategic analysts agree that in the second half of the 20th century, contemporary wars are less of a problem of relations between states than a problem within states. Despite the growing number of armed conflicts and wars throughout the world, not enough attention has been paid to the local patterns of distress being experienced and the long-term health impact and psychosocial consequences of the various forms of political violence against individuals, communities, or specific ethnic groups. The short or long-term impact assessment on civilian populations of poor countries affected by war have been scarce, and studies focussing on experiences of collective suffering and trauma-related disorders among survivors are beginning to emerge in the scientific literature. The medicalization of collective suffering and trauma reflects a poor understanding of the relationships among critically important social determinants and the range of possible health outcomes of political violence.

PMID:
12144134
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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