IGAD kicks off national consultations for East/Horn of Africa strategy on preventing and responding to violent extremism

Jul 27, 2016

IGAD focal points, development partners and UNDP convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to kick off national consultations for sub-regional strategy on preventing and responding to violent extremism. Photo: Cristina Birsan/UNDP

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25 July 2016 – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) plus Tanzania officially launched today national consultations to develop a strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism in the east and horn of Africa sub-region. IGAD Member States include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting IGAD develop the strategy, with a financial contribution from the government of Japan.

IGAD Director of Peace and Security Ambassador Tewolde Gebremesekel said that this is a turning point on the issue for IGAD, and “what we do will complement national efforts in preventing and countering violent extremism.”

Ambassador Gebremesekel was speaking during the inaugural strategy development meeting with IGAD country government focal points working on these issues, convened in Addis Ababa, where Ethiopia’s IGAD Focal Point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Berhane Fisseha also reiterated his country’s support for the IGAD strategy.

“Violent extremism has a transnational characteristic and thus requires a regional approach,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Kazuhiro Suzuki. “It is necessary to address the immediate and the root causes of violent extremism politically, socially and economically.”

“Japan is pleased to further contribute to the stability of the region in cooperation with UNDP, IGAD and its member states.”

National consultations will be held in select IGAD countries in the coming weeks to ensure the strategy is based on a shared understanding of the issue and builds on existing experience, while providing a forum for knowledge exchange.

The consultations are expected to bring together actors in this area of work including government, civil society, faith-based organisations, academics, development partners and others. Topics of discussion will include looking at preventing and responding to violent extremism through a development lens, community resilience to violent extremism, research as well as state capacity to deal with violent extremism.

“When a woman cannot go to a market or a child cannot go to school because of violent extremism, this is a development risk,” said UNDP Africa’s Regional Cluster Director for Governance and Peacebuilding Ozonnia Ojielo during the meeting.

Violent extremism has had a severe social and economic impact in Africa. UNDP research shows that some 33,000 people have lost their lives in about 4,000 terrorist attacks in Africa in the last five years alone. Hundreds of thousands of people have also been displaced by groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia.

UNDP’s support to IGAD is part of the recently-launched, four-year USD 65.7 million initiative Preventing and Responding to Violent Extremism in Africa: A Development Approach that aims to address the root causes and enabling factors of violent extremism.

The regional programme works with regional and national institutions, including government, police and the criminal justice system; religious institutions; and communities to build trust, identify early warning signs of radicalisation and potential violent extremism, and design appropriate responses. The programme is also in line with the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

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