Salience of Threat: The Effects of Dissident Violence and Ethnic Diversity on Internal Displacement
Midwest Political Science Association Conference, Chicago IL (April 11-14, 2013)
34 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 30, 2013
What causes the internal displacement of civilians during civil conflicts? In this study, I suggest that the practice of lumping refugees alongside displaced persons fails to uncover the true processes leading to either population. Past scholarship has found a significant relationship between the production of forced migrants and the amount of violence carried out by belligerents during conflict. However, I suggest that the choice to become an internally displaced person rather than a refugee is a reflection of the source of threat faced by potential migrants. More specificially, I find that past dissident violence against civilians is associated with wide-scale internal displacement, while similar violence perpetrated by government actors is not. I also find that while ethnic conflicts are no more likely to produce internal displacement, more ethnically diverse societies are prone to experience higher numbers of internally displaced persons, regardless of the goals of the conflict. Lastly, I find that wars in which dissidents are able to hold and control distinct portions of territory are associated with the onset of internal displacement.
Keywords: Displacement, civil conflict, internal displacement, IDPs, forced migration, dissident violence
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