Resettlement and violence: collateral damages of a well intended humanitarian intervention in Maratane refugee camp
CEA ISCTE Lisbon, Portugal
Refugees may have become the fastest growing population category in the world (Bauman). In Africa, armed civil conflicts and state collapse cause massive forced migrations (Mbembe). In these ?new wars? violence and abuses against civil populations cause massive dislocations. Mass exodus is closely followed by international humanitarian intervention, often in the form of camps for refugees and displaced persons. Designed for the protection of the population (to ensure safety, shelter, food and basic health care), the camps are also a way to discipline and segregate uprooted people from the population of their host societies. The time of permanence in the camps has become very superior to the duration of the humanitarian catastrophe at its origin (Agier).
Refugee camps have become a constant of African landscape, a new form of organization of the social space, with truly structural character (Mbembe). This results in profound society?s transformation. Forced migrations and following humanitarian interventions have thus become a decisive factor of societal transformations in the places of origin of the migrants as well as at their destinations.
The refugee camp model, as an external intervention, has important multilateral effects, frequently underestimated and somehow unexpected. It affects the camp inmates, but also the surrounding environment and its population, the local NGO?s and enterprises and heaven the central government of the hosting country.
I will present an unexpected effect of an external humanitarian intervention, through a case study of Maratane refugee camp, in Northern Mozambique. This camp has a population of nearly 5000 people, forced migrants from the Great Lakes region, mainly from D.R.Congo. In 2006, following a well intended UNHCR resettlement program, the majority of the camp population decided that if they wanted to become eligible for resettlement in North America or Europe they ?must? be victims or perpetrators of violence. I propose to analyze how this programme seriously undermined a potentially successful integration process, causing an upsurge of violence.