Assisting survivors of war and atrocity: notes on `psycho-social' issues for NGO workers

NGOs are receiving and distributing increasing funding for projects attempting to help traumatised victims of political violence. The author argues that many of these projects are ill conceived, failing to recognise that one aim of modern warfare is the dissolution of the social fabric and that survivors will be trying to manage their distress in damaged social environments. Also, the Western conception of mental trauma does not provide an adequate model for understanding the complex and evolving experiences of those in war-affected areas. Social development should be foremost in NGOs' efforts, as opposed to the conception of the traumatised simply as patients who need to be treated. This article also appears in the Development in Practice Reader [13]Development in States of War.