Health, victimisation and SSR

21/06/2016 @ 17:42
by Alix Lichtsteiner

How can health be related to SSR processes and how important is it to integrate it to SSR?

Feeling of security can come from trust. In post-conflict and war-torn countries, people’s trust and confidence in their government, security and armed forces is low and uncertain. This decrease or absence of trust is often a consequence of crimes committed against a population. Crimes and consequent victimisation can come from all sorts of sources and levels (i.e. war crimes, rape, genocide, murders, gender-based violence…). However, for changes to occur, one has to trust the process, and more importantly the persons in charge. Therefore, isn’t it important to consider, on individual and community levels, victimisations and traumas as part of SSR? And what about victims’ support and rehabilitation? Are there situations where SSR programmes might have failed to take into account the population’s traumatic experiences?

More generally, are there any examples where health support or psychological and crisis cells were incorporated as full part of SSR programmes? How important is it to consider the medical and psychological assistance when it comes to SSR changes and implementations? 

26/06/2018 @ 15:29
by Mirko Daniel Fernandez

Dear Alix,

I believe you will find a recent piece from ICAN which explores how psychosocial approaches are being applied to rehabilitation and integration strategies in Nigeria very interesting.

Psychologist Fatima Akilu offers an interesting global south example on engaging female victims of Boko Haram but also female volunteers of the extremist group. Akilu points out the importance of engaging the family and community as a collective of victims in a psychosocial approach.  Akilu’s psychosocial approach also allows her to document emblematic reasons why women and girls join Boko Haram which includes the extremist group providing them many opportunities to feel empowered: “some were allowed to participate in combat, keep slaves, handle sophisticated weapons and also had access to money and material goods. For others marrying a Boko Haram commander conferred a certain status on them”.

Additionally, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) have published material you may find relevant to this topic:

  1. “Violence against an individual is violence against society, and the family as a whole” SDCs experience in addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence
  2. Gender, Conflict Transformation and the Psychosocial Approach (Toolkit)
07/03/2018 @ 14:31
by Lara Stoppini

Dear Alix,

Conflicts can have various psychological, physical, and social effects. It has a tendency to fracture the ties that bind society and individual people together. In this sense, a society cannot rebuild following violent conflict unless it comes to terms with the past. Both individual and collective traumas have a role to play here.

The focus of peacebuilding has slowly shifted toward the potential of methods which place “human” aspects at the heart of things. Hence, given the tremendous challenges at a global level, the psychosocial approach is receiving more attention again today as people search for innovative approaches. The psychosocial approach is all about supporting people who have become incapacitated as a result of traumatic experiences (e.g. conflict situations).

This March 2018 edition of Peacebuilding Magazine by Swisspeace made me remember your question as it gives many examples of professionals working with the psychosocial approach in various post-conflict countries and advising NGOs, university departments, and advisory centers.

21/07/2016 @ 15:04
by Tanya Hernandez

Dear Alix, 

You may also find the case of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in 2014-2015 useful in your research, especially the role that security services played in the response process. DCAF partnered with the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Centre in a joint project looking at this issue an have published the policy brief The Security Sector and Global Health Crises: Lessons and Prospects to see how the security sector can help prevent and manage health crises in the future. It is a good tool to understand the different roles that the various security actors can play, such as the police, border guards, military forces, intelligence services, the justice sector and penal system, and local security actors, through a breakdown of their potential impact, as well as the timing in which they can all act in. The policy brief argues that SSR is directly linked to the security sector forces’ ability to provide effective assistance during a health crisis, especially given that they need to be respected by the communities they would be working side-by-side with. Therefore they encourage further capacity building between the security and health sectors in a mutual objective to be better equipped for future crises.

I hope that you have found this useful! 

04/07/2016 @ 08:53
by Thammy Evans

Dear Alix,

I am not aware of any major studies on this issue, but it does seem to be an area on the increase. The concerns raised in this area at the 1 German Netherlands Corps Exercise Common Effort last week regarding Libya show that there might be much to be gained by concentrating on healthcare and well being as one aspect of recovery. On reflection therefore, I offer you the following for consideration in answer to your question:

Trauma and transitional justice. SSR policy and practice do not look at all closely at the issue of healthcare, although there is some acknowledgement on the outskirts. Most notably this is in regard to a community's ability/resilience for recovery from trauma, which in part is tied up with transitional justice issues. So in my humble view, there is a lot of scope for exploitation in the area of health and SSR, and in security capacity building using health as one aspect particularly to rebuild war-ravaged armies and traumatised soldiers. This could be a big contribution to DDR. I know from my own brief time in Libya, that militias were crying out, literally, for PTSD assistance but could get none. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is doing some work in trauma and social counselling, so it would be worth inquiring with them further. A search using the term 'trauma' in the ISSAT Resource Library reveals a few items perspectives, health, and sexual violence. There is more available on the health and trauma repercussions of war when one widens the perspective of SSR (as one should) to include the full gender spectrum. DCAF has written quite a bit about this, and Megan Bastick  would be a good place to start. The prevention of sexual violence by the military is increasingly an area of focus.Basic health care in the military. I know there are also concerns among host nation armies at the soldier level who are unlikely to show much allegiance to the concept of an army when the basics of medical care are not even remotely likely. Military health care can also be used as a means to building bridges with local communities. There has been quite a bit of work done on this in the Philippines I think. Health and corrections facilities. Finally, health is big issue in prisons and detention centres, so there might be some cross over here with the military, and of course with justice, and not least because many detention centres in host nations are run by the military, or by ex-military, so again there are options here for looking at vocational training as part of a DDR or retirement programme in the military. The UN's Justice and Corrections Service would be a good place to look further into this issue.Another place to inquire is with Alex Butchart at the World Health Organisation, who runs WHO's Violence and Injury Prevention programme.

Hope this helps.