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Moving forward together? Legacy issues and well‐being in post war Sri Lanka

Rachel Tribe (Professor at the School of Psychology, University of East London, London, UK)
Harriet Calvert (NHS and Self employed Psychoanalyst and Child Psychotherapist, Iver, UK)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 15 August 2011




Sri Lanka was subject to a civil war of almost 30 years' duration which was won militarily by the Sri Lankan army in May 2009. Sri Lanka was also seriously affected by the Asian tsunami in December 2004 which affected three‐quarters of the country's coastline and caused considerable damage. In addition, in January 2011, the east of the country suffered from serious flooding. Many Sri Lankans have therefore lived through extremely difficult times. This paper seeks to briefly discuss some of the work undertaken by the UK: Sri Lanka Trauma Group (UKSLTG) over approximately 14 years.


The author of this paper views well‐being as multi‐faceted, and sees psychological health as influenced by familial, community, spiritual, cultural, socio‐political, and other factors. How an individual construes all these factors is likely to be important, particularly in the context of a civil war, a subsequent military victory by one side, and a recent return to peace. The ensuing legacy may be multi‐layered, and affect individuals, families, groups, and the multiple communities that people are part of in any number of ways. The lessons learned by the UKSLTG through work in a range of contexts and with a variety of groups are discussed.


The applicability of the knowledge and ideas generated through the work of the UKSLTG and their possible transferability to other contexts will also be briefly considered. The authors are not attempting to provide a definitive account of possible work but a description of what has been learned working in a war and post war situation.


The paper highlights the importance of working in real partnership, of community engagement, and of the need to be flexible and prepared to discount original plans and to be open to doing things differently as circumstances dictate.



Tribe, R. and Calvert, H. (2011), "Moving forward together? Legacy issues and well‐being in post war Sri Lanka", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 131-138.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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