The growing threat of violent extremism in the Sub-Saharan African region should be nipped in the bud using a raft of economic, social and political tools in order to realize progress and stability in the continent, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report has said.
Africa is the new epicenter of violent extremism, accounting for 48 percent of all terrorism-related deaths globally, said the report that was launched ahead of the African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit to be held in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital on Feb. 18-19.
In its second edition, the UNDP report titled “Journey to Extremism in Africa: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement”, cited poverty, unemployment, broken social structures, marginalization and dysfunctional politics for fueling the embrace of violent ideologies by the continent’s youth.
“The Sub-Saharan African region has turned into a new global epicenter of violent extremism, with devastating impact on lives and livelihoods, and on prospects for peace and development,” said Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator.
He stressed that addressing the root causes of violent extremism such as abject poverty, ethnic strife, religious indoctrination, and discrimination should be a priority for African governments and their bilateral partners.
In addition, Steiner said that investments in peace-building, youth empowerment, political inclusivity, and inter-ethnic cohesion could be more effective in defeating the menace of violent extremism as opposed to military offensive.
He added that every dollar invested in peace-building will save an additional $16 that could be incurred in tackling conflicts and violent extremism in Africa.
The Horn of Africa and the Sahel region are currently violent extremism hotspots although the threat has spread in Mozambique, leading to deaths, mass displacement of civilians, and economic malaise, noted the UNDP report.
It calls on governments to invest in pro-poor economic projects, expand grassroots education, improve governance, and strengthen the rule of law in order to buffer communities from embracing violent ideologies.