The younger generation of Africans should be involved in the fight against ongoing terrorism in the region, the United Nation’s Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday.
At the opening of a counter-terrorism conference in Nairobi, a city which endured its own terrorist attack earlier this year, Guterres advised African nations to invest in young people to tackle the spread of terrorism especially in West Africa and the Sahel where armed militias are frequently carrying out attacks against civilians.
To create a lasting and stable future for Africa, Guterres said, it was essential to have young people involved in the stabilization process, especially through investing in education, training, employment, and job creation.
“Young Africans should also be fully involved in developing and implementing strategies and activities to prevent and counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism,” he said. “I hope this conference considers practical ways to harness the creativity, energy, and power of young people to strengthen resilience against terrorism and build more peaceful, just and inclusive societies.”
These young people in Nairobi are using education to improve their job prospects & turn their backs on violent extremism.
Education & job creation must be at the heart of all efforts to push back against radicalization. pic.twitter.com/koILTr5mAA
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) July 9, 2019
With frequent terrorist attacks gripping Africa, Guterres emphasized that the radicalization of young people does not happen in a vacuum and that there are many external factors contributing to people joining militias.
“Narratives of grievance, actual or perceived injustice and promised empowerment become attractive wherever human rights are being violated, good governance is being ignored and aspirations are being crushed,” he said.
In a U.N. Development Programme study, it was found that lack of education and poverty were two key factors that lead to radicalization, however, 71 percent of those surveyed said government actions and abuse were the defining factor in them joining a terrorist group.
“There needs to be a renewed and sustained focus on prevention, including addressing the underlying conditions that cause young men and women to be lured by terrorism,” Guterres said.
The international community must step up their support for African-owned and African-led efforts in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Fighting terrorism & preventing extremism in Africa is essential to preserve peace & security in the world. pic.twitter.com/3Ia1sq8a2i
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) July 10, 2019
He also highlighted the work people in Africa have been doing to secure their region, especially women.
“The role of women is inspirational in so many ways,” he said. “All over the continent women are taking matters into their own hands engaging with local leaders, mayors, young people, children, and their fellow man to fight against exclusion, marginalization, inequality, and abuse – the conditions that led many to radicalization and conflict.”
Additionally, Guterres said that African states have been continuously working to stabilize the region by implementing the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism at national and regional levels. He now believes it is time for the international community to do their part by investing in the area.
“It is now time for the international community to step up and provide the financial and technical resources needed to support African-owned and led counter-terrorism efforts, while fully respecting human rights, the rule of law and gender considerations,” he said.