Sub-Saharan Africa is the ‘new epicenter’ of extremism, according to the UN

NAIROBI (KENYA): The new global epicenter of violent Islamic extremism is sub-Saharan Africa where people are increasingly joining it due to economic factors and less for religious reasons, according to a new report by the agency. UN international development.
According to UNDP report released on Tuesday.
The lives of many Africans have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation and climate change, according to the report.
There has been a 57% decrease in the number of people joining extremist groups for religious reasons, he said.
Nearly 2,200 people were interviewed for the report in eight African countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. More than 1,000 of those interviewed are former members of violent extremist groups, both voluntary and forced recruits, according to the report.
At least 4,155 attacks across Africa have been documented since 2017, according to the report. In these attacks, 18,417 deaths were recorded on the continent, with Somalia recording the highest number of fatalities.
The Somali government is currently waging what has been described as the most significant offensive against the extremist group al-Shabab in more than a decade.
Those interviewed belonged to various extremist groups across the continent, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, which pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda, and in West Africa Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, or JNIM, which is allied with the Islamic State group.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has become the new global epicenter of violent extremism with 48% of deaths from terrorism worldwide in 2021,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at a press briefing before the launch of the report.
This rise of extremism in Africa “not only negatively impacts life, security and peace, but also threatens to undo hard-won development gains for generations to come”, he said. .
Military campaigns to root out extremism are not proving successful, Steiner said.
“Security-focused counterterrorism responses are often costly and ineffective, but investments in preventive approaches to violent extremism are woefully insufficient,” he said. “The social contract between states and citizens must be reinvigorated to address the root causes of violent extremism.”
According to the report, about 71% of those who joined extremist groups were influenced by human rights violations committed by state security forces, such as killings or arrests of family members.
Security forces in some sub-Saharan countries have been accused of brutality and extrajudicial killings and weak judicial systems leave little hope for victims of justice, he said.
Boko Haram in Nigeria and its branch, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, have gained influence by using money to attract poor communities, Hassan Chiboka community leader in Nigeria’s Borno State, where the conflict is concentrated, told The Associated Press in a separate interview.
Those who left extremist groups cited unmet expectations, particularly lack of lasting financial benefits and lack of trust in extremist leaders as primary reasons for quitting.
“Research shows that those who decide to disengage from violent extremism are less likely to join and recruit others,” the report said.
“That’s why it’s so important to invest in incentives that enable disengagement,” said Nirina Kiplagat, UNDP specialist in the prevention of violent extremism in Africa. “Local communities play a central role in supporting sustainable pathways out of violent extremism, alongside national governments’ amnesty programs.”
The UNDP report recommends better basic services, including child protection, education and quality livelihoods, to prevent people from voluntarily joining extremist groups. He also urged creating more exit opportunities and investing in community rehabilitation and reintegration services.


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