Participants at a just-ended retreat organised by the African Union (AU) have decried the prevalence of terrorism, violent and religious extremism in Nigeria and some parts of the continent.
A report released after the event, held in Namibia under the auspices of the Sixth AU Annual High-Level Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa, said participants noted that, although terrorism had affected the African continent for some time, the increase in frequency and scope of violent attacks by different groups and the growing presence of the so-called Islamic State in Africa – to which some groups have pledged allegiance – were a matter of deep concern.
“Casualties, destruction of infrastructure, displacement and loss of livelihoods have been unprecedented,” read the report. According to the retreat, in Somalia, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic and in Libya, armed conflict and/or terrorism had resulted in a humanitarian crisis of grave proportions.
There is an estimated 28 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across the Sahel. “Moreover, it is likely that the conditions fuelling violent extremism will not subside in the immediate future, especially given the current dynamics in the Middle East and the increasing globalisation evident throughout the world.”
Participants emphasised that terrorism must not be seen as a static phenomenon, its nature changing over time and place.
“This phenomenon has been conceptualised, indeed defined, in a variety of ways, not all consistent.” Therefore, participants said, some level of consensus on how these concepts were defined was central to the development of appropriate responses and solutions, in order to reduce the risk that counter-terrorism strategies are developed in the pursuit of narrow interests.
In Nigeria, terrorism, violent and religious extremism perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect has killed thousands and displaced more than 2 million people.
Author: Okoro Chinedu