Spatial patterns of violence against civilians

Fjelde, H., Hultman, L., Sollenberg, M. and Sundberg, R.
Date published
01 Jan 2017
Conflict, violence & peace, National & regional actors, Urban

Direct and deliberate violence against civilians is a prevalent phenomenon. Such violence is observed across a large and varied set of countries and perpetrated by a wide range of actors, including state forces, rebel organizations, pro-government militias, and vigilante groups. Knowledge of locations of one-sided violence (OSV), measured at the sub-national level, enables a more focused examination of the drivers of this behavior at the level where the violence actually unfolds. Since urban areas are important hubs for civil war recruitment and activity, the logic follows that urban centers will also be at greater risk of OSV. The spatial patterns of civilian targeting by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) closely follow its movements around the region, in addition to developments in its ongoing conflict with the Ugandan government. The spatial correlation with civil war events suggests that OSV may reflect strategic goals of armed actors, such as undermining support structures and supply lines from civilian populations to the adversary.