A total of 33,300 people have been killed in Africa between 2011 and 2016 due to violent extremism, according to a UN Development Programme-sponsored study released on Tuesday.
The study titled “A journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment” was launched in capital Addis Ababa.
Poverty, lack of basic services, and repression of rights have been pinpointed in the study as some of the main drivers of extremism in Africa.
“Violent extremism in Africa is setting in motion a dramatic reversal of development gains and threatening to stunt prospects of development for decades to come. From 2011 to 2016, it caused 33,300 fatalities as well as widespread displacement, creating situations of pronounced and critical humanitarian need,” it said.
It listed key extremist groups in the continent as: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Jama’at Tawhid Wal Jihad fi Garbi Afriqqiya (Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa, MUJAO), Jama’atul Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati wal Jihad (Boko Haram) and Ansaru in Nigeria and Cameroon, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) in East Africa; and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa.
“Smaller pockets of violent extremist affiliated activity have emerged, with the activities of many groups spreading across state borders into neighboring countries, spawning further groups and individuals pledging allegiance either to primary groups or related ideologies, for instance in Cameroon, Kenya, Mali and Niger, among others,” the study said.
“A number of ‘foreign fighters’ are known to have travelled from Sudan to Libya, Syria and Iraq, and, in a smaller number of cases, to Somalia and Nigeria, in support of violent extremist activity,” it added.
Ambassador Frederic Gataetse Nguga, representative of the African Union, on the occasion said that despised as it may be, Al-Shabaab in Somalia is regarded by the grassroots as a group delivering swift judgments in addition to excelling at tax collection and intelligence system.
He called for the need to outsmart extremist groups fomenting radicalism and extremism in the continent.
According to the study, deep rooted poverty and other economic factors have also caused young people to subscribe to extremism.
It added: “A sense of grievance towards, and limited confidence in government is widespread in the regions of Africa associated with the highest incidence of violent extremism.”