Lack of jobs, main driver of violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa: UNDP Geopolitics News

Lack of jobs, main driver of violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa: UNDP

The report titled, Journey to Extremism in Africa: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagementemphasizes the importance of economic factors as drivers of recruitment.

desperation factor

Lack of income, lack of job opportunities and livelihood means that “desperation is essentially push people to seize opportunities, with anyone who offers this“, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, speaking at the launch of the report.

He added that approximately 25 percent of all recruits cited a lack of job opportunities as the main reason, while around 40% said they had “an urgent need for livelihood at the time of recruitment”.

Sub-Saharan Africa has become the new global epicenter violent extremism with nearly half of the world’s deaths from terrorism recorded there in 2021.

The report is based on interviews with almost 2,200 different people in eight countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

In their own words

More than 1,000 of those interviewed are former members of violent extremist groups, both voluntary and forced recruits.

A quarter of those who volunteered said the main factor was unemployment – a 92% increase from last UNDP study of violent extremism in 2017.

About 48% of volunteer recruits told researchers that there had been “a triggering event” that caused them to enroll.

Abuse also promotes recruitment

Of that figure, some “71 percent cited human rights abuses they had suffered as government action,” said Nirina Kiplagat, lead author of the report and UNDP regional peacebuilding adviser.

Basic human rights violations such as seeing a father arrested, or a brother taken away by national military forces, were among the triggers cited.

According to the report, peer pressure from family members or friends is cited as the second most common factor in recruitment, including women following their spouse into an extremist group.

Religious ideology is the third most common reason for joining, cited by around 17% of respondents. This represents a decrease of 57% compared to the results of 2017.

Nigerian families who fled Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, take refuge in Diffa, Niger

Developmental Remedies

The new report is part of a series of three, analyzing the prevention of violent extremism. It highlights the urgent need to shift from security-focused responses to development-focused approaches focused on prevention, said the UNDP.

It calls for greater investment in basic services including child protection, education and calls for investment in community-based rehabilitation and reintegration services.

Mr Steiner said a “toxic mix” was being created of poverty, destitution and lack of opportunity, with so many citing the “urgent need to find means of subsistence”. It is equivalent to a society”no longer having the rule of law, turning to some of these violent extremist groups to provide security.”

Security-focused counterterrorism responses are often costly and ineffective, the UNDP Administrator said, and there is insufficient investment in preventive approaches to violent extremism.

Terrorist groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram or Al-Qaeda emerge due to local conditions, but then begin to amass weapons and obtain funding – in the case of the Sahel, enabling other cells to resource themselves in a independent.

The lack of job opportunities in places like Niger (pictured) pushes many people towards extremist groups.

© UN News/Daniel Dickinson

The lack of job opportunities in places like Niger (pictured) pushes many people towards extremist groups.

No surprises

The geopolitical dimension should surprise no oneMr. Steiner said, where states are no longer able to provide the rule of law or meaningful national security, “then the possibility for other actors to be part of this drama grows exponentiallywe saw it in Mali, we saw it in Libya, we saw it in the Horn of Africa”.

Based on the interviews, the report also identified factors that drive recruits to leave armed groups, such as unmet financial expectations or a lack of trust in group leaders.

Lack of jobs, main driver of violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa: UNDP

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