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African leaders show concern over violent extremism

Arthur Douglas/Maxilmilian K.Kasseh, Jr.
Senegalese President Macky Sall
Senegalese President Macky Sall

NEW YORK,USA-Many African leaders used their speeches at the U.N. General Assembly this week to express concerns over the growing threat of violent extremism in Africa.

The leaders called upon the international community to help better equip regional anti-terror forces to combat terrorism, especially at a time when jihadists defeated in Middle East, as Islamic State loses strength and territory there, will return to their African home countries.

President Macky Sall of Senegal told world leaders at the 72nd annual U.N. Assembly on Wednesday, September 20, 2017: "We want an Africa in peace and security; an Africa that does not serve as a sanctuary for terrorist groups fought and defeated elsewhere,"

But a study conducted by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) this month has found that measures deployed by African governments to combat terrorism actually impel more people to join violent groups.

"Journey to Extremism," a two-year study conducted by the UNDP, was based on interviews with more than 700 people, nearly 600 of whom were volunteers or force recruits of extremist groups in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan, Cameroon and Niger.

The study cited poor family circumstances, lack of education and poverty as factors behind people's embrace of violence and extremism.

State violence and abuse of power serve as a "final tipping point" for the people to join extremist groups.

"Militarized responses to violent extremism have only served to deepen long-standing mistrust and alienation," the U.N. report said, adding that many African countries have used counterterror plans to limit the space for political opposition and suppress civil society and the media.



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