Violent extremism said to cost Africa $1b in economic losses

Violent extremism has a huge devastating toll on Africa, causing more than $1 billion in economic losses on the continent, the International Association for Global Peace (IAGP) has said.

The IAGP, an organisation working to promote global peace, violent extremism, continued to remain a critical development challenge in Africa, and therefore called for accelerated action to tackle the menace proactively.

That required the implementation of a comprehensive programme focusing on control, prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation, by targeting the root causes of extremism and radicalism on the continent, Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the President of the IAGP told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Sunyani. 

He said, “Violent extremism threatens the security and fundamental rights of citizens all over the world and undermines the attempts by nations to achieve sustainable peace,” and it posed a significant threat to global peace, stability, and social cohesion.

Mr Ahenu identified ideological indoctrination, socio-economic marginalisation, political grievances, online radicalisation and bad governance as remote factors fueling violent extremism in Africa. 

“This growing menace has resulted in devastating consequences, including loss of innocent lives, destruction of communities, and the erosion of trust among diverse populations. 

In fact, urgent action is required to address the root causes of violent extremism and develop effective strategies to counter its spread,” he stated. 

Mr Ahenu, who is also the Founder of the Sunyani-based Global Media Foundation (GloMeF), a media advocacy and human rights non-governmental organisation said, “violent extremism is a fundamental social problem with many violent extremists recruiting disenfranchised youth and inciting them to commit acts of violence.” 

He therefore called on everybody to help identify and disintegrate extremist groups, calling on African leaders to do more to create jobs for wealth-creation, to alleviate poverty on the continent. 

He said while the youth sought for opportunities to invest their potential, they were often affected by poverty, marginalisation, unemployment, and under-employment, and often found themselves lacking the necessary literacy, capabilities, and skills to overcome these issues.

This, and the several other emerging challenges, Mr Ahenu said made young people in Africa a vulnerable target of recruitment by violent extremist groups, that exploited their frustrations and vulnerability.

He said the IAGP was seeking partnerships and funding support from international donors, governmental agencies, and private sector organisations for the implementation of a programme to help tackle violent extremism and related issues threatening national security and stability.

The overall goal of the “Strengthening Country Resilience Against Violent Extremism (SCRAVE)” programme was to create a holistic approach to address violent extremism, integrating prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation strategies. 

“We are going to do and achieve these by fostering community resilience, promoting inclusive dialogue, and providing support to at-risk individuals, and work towards a safer and more peaceful society,” he stated.

The programme would further strengthen the capacity of local institutions, community organisations and civil society actors to sustain and lead the efforts against violent extremism in countries and establish partnerships between governmental bodies, civil society organisations, religious groups, and communities, leading to cohesive and synchronised efforts against violent extremism.

Mr Ahenu, therefore, called on the international community, development partners and donor organisations to support the programme’s implementation to help tackle the critical issue of violent extremism in Africa.

Source: GNA

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