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Modern warfare aims at threatening and fighting civilians rather than foreign armies. Mass expulsions, massacres, mutilations and even genocide have become commonplace.

Many victims of war suffer from injuries and medical diseases, primarily due to poor hygienic conditions, absence of medical care, poverty and malnutrition. The wounds of the psyche however are also extremely disabling. About 20-50 percent of civilians who have experienced war and persecution find themselves victims of severe psychological distress as a consequence of their traumatic experiences. Armed conflicts and violent repression are certainly detrimental for community life. The social structure of war-torn societies is destroyed when relatives and friends are dead or missing. In addition, people often feel detached from one another, withdraw from social activities, and are unable to re-establish family and community life. The psychological and social wounds of wars, persecution and immense loss can persist for decades and interfere with the reconstruction of a functioning society.

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