It is common during a civil war that a government’s counterinsurgency operations result in internally displaced persons seeking refuge from the violence by leaving their communities. However, many civilians alternatively choose to stay in their homes and seek accommodation from the rebels. It is, therefore, puzzling that in a civil war situation when rebel cadres often cannot protect civilians, civilians would remain in their communities. This article argues that the wartime provision of public services motivates civilians to stay with the rebel group because it demonstrates the group’s capability for and commitment to developing civilians’ welfare and livelihoods. This argument offers insight into an unanswered question in the literature regarding internal displacement in a civil war: Why do some civilians, when facing protection issues in rebel-held areas, choose to stay, while others opt to leave? Using novel survey data collected over two phases from the former Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) in Pakistan, a two-step Bayesian propensity score analysis reveals that the civilians who received rebel services are less likely to leave their places of residence. Civilians would pursue long-term goals during the crossfire between the government and rebel forces; wartime provisions of public services allow civilians to seriously consider the possibility of improving their lives.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.