Growth of terrorism in Africa, major threat to peace – UN deputy chief

UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, Ms Amina Mohammed

UN Deputy Secretary- General, Nigeria’s Amina Mohammed says the growth of terrorism is a major threat to international peace and security currently felt most keenly in Africa.

Mohammed said this on Thursday while briefing the Security Council at the UN headquarters on behalf of the Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Terrorists and violent extremists including Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates have exploited instability and conflicts to increase their activities and intensify attacks across the African continent.

“Their senseless, terror-fuelled violence has killed and wounded thousands and many more continue to suffer from the broader impact of terrorism on their lives and livelihoods,’’ she said.

According to her, with misogyny at the core of many terrorist groups’ ideology, women and girls in particular, are bearing the brunt of insecurity and inequality.

“The skyline beyond the northern suburbs of Mogadishu is seen through a bullet hole in the window of a hotel in Somalia.

“Over the last two years, some of the most violent affiliates of Da’esh have expanded, increasing their presence in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger as well as southward into the Gulf of Guinea.

“Terrorist and violent extremist groups aggravate instability and human sufferings. And they can plunge a country emerging from war back into the depths of conflict,’’ the senior UN official noted.

She observed also that terrorists, non-state armed groups and criminal networks often pursued different agendas and strategies, fuelled by smuggling, human trafficking and other methods of illicit financing.

They sometimes impersonate legitimate armed forces, she said.

Mohammed said also that as digital tools spread hate and disinformation, terrorists and other criminal groups exploited inter-communal tensions and food insecurity triggered by climate change. .

She added that in today’s hyper-connected world, the spread of terrorism in Africa is “not a concern for African member states alone.

“The challenge belongs to us all. Countering international terrorism requires effective multilateral responses.’’

She pointed out that from climate emergency to armed conflicts and poverty and inequality to lawless cyberspace, and the uneven recovery from COVID-19, terrorism is converging with other threats.

For a holistic, comprehensive approach, the deputy UN chief cited the New Agenda for Peace – part of the “Our Common Agenda’’ report.

Amidst increasing polarisation, she maintained that it proposes ways to address risks and revitalise collective peace and security system.

Outlining five suggestions to advance counter-terrorism efforts in Africa, Mohammed reminded that prevention remained the best response.

“We must address instability and conflicts that can lead to terrorism in the first place as well as the conditions exploited by terrorists in pursuit of their agendas,’’ she stressed.

She also called for community-based, gender-sensitive “whole-of-society’’ approaches.

She said that complex links between terrorism, patriarchy and gender-based violence, and counter-terrorism policies needed to be strengthened by the meaningful participation and leadership of women and girls.

She stressed that “countering terrorism can never be an excuse for violating human rights or international law as it would only set us back.’’

She also stressed the importance of regional organisations that could address challenges posed by terrorists and violent extremist groups in the local context.

Mohamed called for “sustained and predictable funding’’ to prevent and counter terrorism.

From economic deprivation to organised crime and governance challenges, “the magnitude of the problem calls for bold investments,’’ she said.

The deputy secretary-general welcomed the planned October 2023 Summit on counterterrorism in Africa as an opportunity to consider ways to strengthen UN’s efforts across the continent.

She expressed confidence that Thursday’s debate would offer insights for the summit, and “help to build peaceful, stable communities and societies across the African continent’’. (NAN)

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