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UN: Violent extremism is the most pressing challenge facing Africa

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A new report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) calls for development-centered and inclusive approach in responding to violent extremism in Africa.

The report entitled, “Journey to Extremism in Africa: drivers, incentives and the tipping point for recruitment,” was launched on Tuesday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, underscoring the need for Africa to deal with the scourge by development-based approach among others.






Violent extremism is the most pressing challenge facing Africa, which claimed the lives of 33,300 people in the years between 2011 and 2016, with millions of displacements and economic devastation resulting in humanitarian catastrophes on the continent.

“Just as violent extremism profoundly impacts the attainment of development goals, so the search for solutions must also place development approaches at its center,” the report said.

According to the report, dramatic reappraisal of state security-based interventions is urgently required, including more effective oversight of human rights compliance, rule of law and state accountability.





Speaking at the launch of the study, Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Humanitarian Coordinator, reiterated that the problem is a grave concern on the continent as attacks by violent extremists are challenging development gains in many African countries.

“If left unchecked violent extremism threatens to stunt development outcomes for generations to come,” she said, indicating that violent extremism is fundamentally paved with deprivation, marginalization and poverty.

The official underlined the need to ensure inclusive and participatory development investments, particularly at community level, in the periphery and border areas.

Focusing on the drivers and incentives for recruitment in Africa, the study is drawn from an unprecedented number of interviews with former recruits from multiple violent extremist groups spanning the continent.






The UNDP Resident Representative said that UNDP uses the new study to assist African governments in formulating and implementing evidence-based, inclusive and effective national plans of action.

The official has also reiterated the joint efforts with partners globally in addressing the scourge of violent extremism in Africa.

“I urge our collective focus and efforts to stem and transform violent extremism in Africa and globally, towards sustainable development and peace,” she said.

The 2015 UN Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism urges the global community of states to pay closer attention to the root causes and drivers of violent extremism, calling for a shift in focus from decades of over-concentration on militarized approaches.

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