Natural disasters do not create peace

A devastating tsunami hit southern Asia in December 2004. After the tsunami, both politicians and journalists believed that the natural disaster could help to bring peace to Sri Lanka and the Aceh province of Indonesia. But did it?

A group of researchers at the University of Oslo have studied the political ramifications of the tsunami and whether the largest ever relief and reconstruction effort launched after the disaster has helped to create peace. Their aim was to learn more about the connection between natural disasters and potential political conflict resolution.

War and the tsunami

The Aceh region has had a turbulent history vis-à-vis the central Indonesian authorities. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesia government were still in a state of war when the tsunami hit the province in 2004. For many years Sri Lanka has experienced conflict and civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the government on one side and the Tamil minority on the other. Peace negotiations between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eealam, in which Norway played a leading role, broke down in 2003, and the conflict flared up again with a vengeance. When the tsunami hit during the Christmas holiday in 2004, Aceh and Sri Lanka were two of the areas hardest hit.

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Source: Research Council of Norway

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