Violent extremism is a global issue that threatens peace, security, and development. It is not limited to any one region, nationality, or religious system. A call to action prompted the United Nations to declare February 12th as International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism in order to raise global awareness of the threats associated with violent extremism.
Violent extremism which is the use of violence in line with an ideological commitment to achieve political, religious or social goals can be carried out by any individual or a group from a range of beliefs and ideologies. There are push and pull factors that may influence involvement in violent extremism. The push factors are marginalization, inequality, discrimination, persecution or the perception thereof, the denial of rights and civil liberties environmental, historical or socio-economic grievances, which might be actual or perceived. On the other hand, the pull factors are providing outlets for grievances, the promise of hope, justice and a sense of purpose. The pull factors indeed nurture the appeal to engage in violent extremism at individual and psycho-social levels.
Sub-Saharan Africa witnessed the violence that has been linked to the influence and activities of global extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, Daesh, and Boko-Haram. The epic-centres are the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, DR Congo, Somalia and Northern Mozambique. Security responses are important but not sufficient, and neither can they address the underlying conditions that breed violent extremism and drive young people to join violent extremist groups. There is therefore a need for a soft approach and the employment of a non-kinetic approach in addressing the root causes of the problem.
AAIPSDS work in preventing and countering violent extremism will involve the following:
- Collaborate with strategic partners, think tanks, peace centres and other allied institutions to provide evidence-based knowledge on countering violent extremism.
- Engaging religious clerics, community leaders, and women organisations as advocates of countering violent extremism.
- Empowering the youth through capacity building, education, skill development and employment facilitation.
- Developing strategic communication through various media platforms to counter violent extremism
- Working with relevant stakeholders and partners to provide capacity-building support to front line workers delivering mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS) to people engaged in or affected by violent extremism.
Today and every day, let us work together to build more peaceful, inclusive, and stable societies in which terror and violent extremism have no home.
– Antonio Guterres