Refugee Return and Violence in Afghanistan

Conference paper

Harpviken, Kristian Berg (2010) Refugee Return and Violence in Afghanistan, 17 February.

To what extent did refugees that returned to Afghanistan from the neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, engage in political violence upon their return to their country of origin? This paper is informed by the observation that a significant share of the Afghan refugees were enrolled in militant organizations. The Afghan case study forms part of a larger comparative project on refugee return and violence. The focus is on two specific time periods: firstly, the 1992 regime change and the peak in returns in the two following years, secondly, the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban and the pursuant repatriation. The project applies a process-oriented approach to understand under which conditions militarized refugees continue to engage in organized violence upon return, looking specifically at a number of mechanisms in various parts of the refugee cycle, from the triggers of flight (where traumatization could dispose for later violence) and the conditions in exile (f.ex. ideological socialization) to the conditions inviting return (f.ex. nature of political settlement) and the conditions upon return (f.ex. socio-economic foundations). The ambition of the larger project is to identify distinct trajectories to postreturn violence (or to its absence), based on the interaction of various mechanisms. The Afghan case study will be one of two in-depth case studies (alongside Rwanda) in the larger project, and will also serve a key role in developing the methodology for the comparative follow-on.

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