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'Extremist Groups Benefit from Unemployment' - UNDP Report

FILE - al-Shabab fighters march during a military exercise on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011.
FILE - al-Shabab fighters march during a military exercise on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011.

A report released Tuesday by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, finds that extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa are fast-growing because of unemployment.

Authorities of the United Nations Development Programme, Tuesday said they interviewed over 2,200 former extremist recruits from eight African nations to compile a report that documents how militant groups are fast-growing on the continent.

In the recently released report which is titled “Journey to Extremism in Africa: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement,” the UNDP said a quarter of voluntary recruits that spoke to the aid organization cited job opportunities as the primary reason for joining extremist groups and added that 40 percent said they were in urgent need of a livelihood at the time of recruitment.

“Religion came as the third reason for joining,” read the UNDP’s report, adding, “nearly half of the respondents cited a specific trigger event that pushed them to join violent extremist groups, with a striking 71 percent pointing to human rights abuse, often conducted by state security forces.”

Achim Steinher, the UNDP’s administrator said sub-Saharan Africa is the new global epicenter of violent extremism and called on leaders on the continent to immediately address social issues that are triggering the fast-growing recruitments.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has become the new global epicenter of violent extremism with 48 percent of global terrorism deaths in 2021,” said Steinher.

“This surge not only adversely impacts lives, security and peace, but also threatens to reverse hard-won development gains for generations to come,” he added.

The findings produced by the UNDP have been supported by the Global Terrorism Index, who report that global deaths resulting from terrorism have declined in the last five years, but drastically spiked in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Isaac Kfir, a research fellow at the Institute for Economics and Peace who was a contributor to the report produced by the Global Terrorism Index described sub-Saharan Africa as a conducive environment for the rise of terrorist activity.

“A perfect storm is brewing in Sub-Saharan Africa,” read a statement released by Kfir in the GTI’s report.

“Increased terrorism activity, drastic climate change, persistent failures of the ruling elites, and heightened ethnic tensions have created the conditions to bring about several coups that pose a major challenge for security, stability and development, as they are underpinned by a willingness to use violence to foster political change,” added his statement.

This report was compiled from a report released by the UNDP, the Global Terrorism Index and information from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.