Terrorists are not born but created – UN chief

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed says efforts must be made to address the underlying causes of terrorism and rebuild communities affected by the menace across Africa.

She said that terrorists were not born, but  created by the environment due to social exclusion, inequality and relegation of human rights.

The UN chief spoke during the High-Level African Counter-Terrorism Meeting, on Monday in Abuja.

The meeting has the theme ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Institution Building to Address the Evolving Threat of Terrorism in Africa’.

It was organised by Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and UN Office for Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).

Mohammed said that terrorism had created instability and caused untold harm and suffering, with women and girls bearing the brunt of it.

It has also destroyed communities destroyed and tore apart their social fabric.

These are communities of limited opportunities for relevant education and economic empowerment, she observed, adding that it meant denying a huge population, especially the youth, a life of dignity.

The UN chief,  therefore, said tackling the menace of terrorism require learning lessons on the root causes, and rebuilding torn societies in line with UN Agenda 2063 and 2030.

“First, we need to address the root causes that led to terrorism in the first place.

“With the absence of development with people at the centre of policy making, terrorists find a welcome home with deeply disillusioned, excluded and desperate people.

“We have seen this in more recent farmer-herder crises, with a tragic symptom.

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“We must formulate responses that address these conditions, and in doing so, we must pay attention to our women and girls who bear the greatest impact of insecurity,’’ she said.

Mohammed urged African countries to invest in the capabilities and aspirations of their young people by creating environment where youths could thrive.

This, she said, would deter disillusionment that could lead young people to join terrorist groups like ISIS or Boko Haram, who always promise new recruits, better opportunities than could be provided by government.

She called on African leaders to rebuild bonds between people and the authorities that govern them, adding that people had been betrayed by decades of underinvestment, crises and a lack of governance.

According to her, it means building strong democratic institutions and promoting people-centered governments, grounded in human rights and guaranteed access to basic services and inclusive development for all people.

“This situation also means ensuring strong regional integration with strengthened and resourced institutions.

“Our leaders must ensure that the institutions of the African Union and ECOWAS, who are responsible to drive integration, have the capacity and the resources to do so, if we are to achieve their mandates.

“The countries of the region are strongest when they stand together in solidarity,” she added.

In his remarks, Mr Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for UNOCT, commended African States and regional organisations for their tireless efforts in countering the scourge that had affected lives and well being of millions of people.

Voronkov said the regional initiatives like the Multi National Joint Task Force, require support and long term commitment from the international community to be able to defeat terrorism in Africa.

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He said the success of the UN in Africa hinges on their commitment to supporting African-led solutions to African challenges, adding that no single actor could resolve current threats to peace and security.

According to him, there is need for multiple actors working together, with solutions grounded in strong national ownership, and supported by funding partners.

“A step-change in our commitment to address those complex challenges is the launch of the UN Joint Appeal for Counter-Terrorism in Africa which brings together 16 UN entities in support of 10 new multi-partner initiatives across the continent.

“It tackles critical areas including border management and countering terrorism in Africa, the nexus between terrorism and organised crime, preventing violent extremism, gender equality and human rights.

“I urge you all to support the Appeal and join us in delivering collaborative, results-focused solutions,” he said.

On his part, the Chairperson of African Union (AU), Mousa Mahamat, said the scourge of terrorism in the continent was worrisome with an average of eight incidents and 44 fatalities per day since 2022.

Mahamat said there was an average of four attacks and 18 victims per day between 2017 and 2021, with over 7,000 causalities in 2023 alone.

He added that the security and military sectors had not been spared, experiencing an alarming losses in personnel, amounting to over 4,000 fatalities.

“At the political level, this situation was and is still being exploited to fit into the negative speech for unconstitutional change of government and for the rejection of our principles of democracy and human rights.

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“These figures underscore our collective and urgent need to reevaluate our counterterrorism strategies to effectively address our vulnerabilities and shortcomings in the face of this growing phenomenon.

“Enhancing our strategies for combating terrorism in Africa demands that we adopt comprehensive approaches to fully realise the vision articulated at the Malabo summit on Terrorism in 2022.

“Member States must translate their commitments into actions,” he said.

The AU Chairperson said the meeting offered them important opportunity for an international cooperation to counter terrorism and violent extremism effectively. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed

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