Strong empirical data and effective community engagement essential to prevention and response to violent extremism, UNDP panelists sayAug 25, 2017
Maputo, 25 August 2017 — Strong empirical evidence, contextualized information, and effective outreach are essential to formulating tailored responses to violent extremism. Such is the key finding of a side event organized on 25 August 2017, during the TICAD 6 Follow-Up Ministerial Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.
Titled Preventing Violent Extremism - “Curbing the Growing Threat to Peace and Development in Africa" the event, which was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sought to explore ways in which stakeholders can effectively contribute to preventing violent extremism in Africa.
The centerpiece of the event was an hour long panel discussion moderated by Mr. David Omozuafoh, Programme Advisor for the Governance and Peacebuilding Unit at UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa (RSCA), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Organized on the margins of the TICAD Ministerial Meeting, the event also illustrated the Government of Japan’s keen interest and commitment to addressing violent extremism, as well as its partnership with UNDP in supporting African countries to address the root causes of this phenomenon.
Panelists included Dr. Lamin Manneh, Director of UNDP’s RSCA; Ms. Fauziya Abdi Ali, Programme Management Specialist at UNDP's RSCA; Dr. Muawia Alameen, Deputy Director General of Sudan’s National Commission for Countering Terrorism; Mr. Jaye Gaskiya, Coordinator of Nigeria’s Partnership Against Violent Extremism; Djondang Tchaknone Enoch, Focal point G5 Sahel in Chad; and Mrs. Fatuma Abdulahi, Senior Technical Advisor, Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Somalia.
The event was also attended by UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye. “It is quite fitting and most welcome that we are examining today the situation in Africa; as violent extremism is not only stunting or in some cases reversing economic growth and development, especially in what is now called the “arch of instability” spanning from the Sahel, to the Lake Chad Basin and all the way to the Horn of Africa; it is also seriously undermining the foundation of peace and security, and robbing the continent of its vital resource, its youth,” said Abdoulaye Mar Dieye in his opening remarks.
In reviewing the global, regional and national responses to PVE, participants lamented the growing drift towards the securitization of aid and the fact that ad-hoc development actions were not set in a cohesive framework.
Other avenues suggested to bolster collective response to PVE included a call to address inequalities at all levels; to deploy effective communication and outreach strategies in order to change the narrative about violent extremism; and to engage with local communities.
Ms. Fatima Abdullahi observed that : “Extremist groups in Africa are way too advanced and good at spreading propaganda and misinformation, and are effectively using social media for that. African governments are slow in catching up to their ways of recruitment. What I would like to see is a continent that is more awake and prepared in addressing these issues and being more vocal in countering extremism and violence in the continent.”
Participants further noted the need to use the development approach effectively by interlinking peace and development challenges; improving institutions’ capacity to deliver basic services to the citizens; and developing the capacity of communities withstand shocks by promoting human security and resilience.
Informed by the findings of UNDP’s study on the “Factors of instability in transboundary zones in the Sahel” the side event was a prelude to the upcoming global launch of Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment, a groundbreaking investigative report on the lure of violent extremism and its recruitment dynamics.
The study includes a set of interviews with former members of extremist groups – currently imprisoned, in rehabilitation facilities or returnees.
The global launch of Journey to Extremism in Africa will take place on 7 September 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.