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Whose solution? Policy imperatives vis-a-vis internally displaced persons' perceptions of solutions to their situation in the Sri Lankan conflict

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The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement proposed by Francis M. Deng in 1998 offer three durable solutions to internal displacement. States are not unwilling alliances when it comes to drawing up elaborate policies as solutions in the best interests of their displaced populations, but which also, albeit most importantly, help to preserve the fragile national security situation of which IDPs are often a product. By counter-posing such dominant government and/or policy discourses on return to the lived realities of IDPs in a dynamic war-torn context, the paper seeks to highlight the 'subaltern' narratives of conflict-displaced IDPs in Vavuniya, in northern Sri Lanka, with regard to the solutions they consider viable in the face of ongoing conflict. Policy narratives and the discursive practices they produce, as well as an eclectic consideration of various concepts, should be useful in understanding not only the policy practices but also the extent to which the displaced are (or are not) part of the solutions that claim to address their displacement. Accordingly, a qualitative method of enquiry was judged to be a relevant approach to answering the question of whether the voices of internally displaced people (IDPs) feature in the discourses claiming to provide a solution to their displacement. The method was applied in an attempt to bring to the fore the perceptions and meanings which IDPs in Vavuniya assign to policies implemented on their behalf.

Keywords: IDPs; Vavuniya; durable solutions; policy narratives; right to return

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-03-01

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