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Tuesday, August 9

Forced from the land

Global IDP Database Internally Displaced Populations in Peru: "Most affected by the political violence were indigenous peasant communities living in the Andean and Amazonic regions, in particular in the department of Ayacucho. It is believed that all but 60,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have returned or decided to permanently settle in their current locations, but most still live in precarious conditions, receiving no or only very limited assistance from the government." This project sponsored by the Norweigan Refugee Council has a country profile as well as several reports about Peruvian IDPs. A map, taken from Ideele magazine (1991), captures the flow of populations. The reports are available in English and Spanish.

Ayacucho the city was impressive because it ballooned in size during the war because peasants fled the countryside. Entire villages disappeared. Refugees lived in basements for weeks, afraid to come out for fear of being seen by the Peruvian military, the police or Sendero.

And when the the provincial cities could hold no more, the refugees fled to Lima. It was an intriguing -- and painful -- movement of people. Part of the the relief of peace has been the return of a large share of the refugees to their homeland, their fields and communities. I have only seen glimpses of that story since I left Peru in early 1996.

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