The Atlantic

The Psychological Trauma of a Multi-Generation War

Colombian children have never lived in a world where their country was not fighting. Now, as peace finally seems probable, the nation is grappling with the mental-health fallout from the conflict.

Source: William Fernando Martinez / AP

The Antonio García School sits in Ciudad Bolivar, one of the poorest parts of Bogotá, Colombia, and an area with a reputation for serious crime and intense poverty. Everything here has an unfinished, haphazard feel: Drivers swerve to avoid huge potholes, litter lines the street, and up above us, precariously built houses cling to the hillside.

But for the first time in decades, Ciudad Bolivar may soon know peace. Colombia’s Congress approved an agreement with the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Wednesday, finally ending a brutal conflict with the guerrilla group that has plagued the South American nation for generations. ​While everyone thought that a deal to end the war had been clinched in August, those who opposed the peace deal won a referendum by a wafer-thin margin, with 50.21 percent of the vote. F​orced​ ​back to the drawing board​, the government and the FARC returned with a new deal last month after 40 days of talks​.

Although huge metal gates guard the entrance to The Antonio García School, once inside, it is friendly and open with paved patios between the brick buildings. In a small classroom, a group of school children have come to talk, as they do more or less every month. Some members of this group have lost family members to the war with the FARC; others have seen their parents

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