UNDP: Work, Not Religion, Main Recruiting Tool of Violent Extremist Groups

A new report by the U.N. Development Program, UNDP, warns violent extremism is growing in sub-Saharan Africa and threatening to reverse hard-won development gains for generations to come.

Sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as the new global epicenter of violent extremism, with nearly half of global terrorism-related deaths in 2021. More than one-third of these deaths have occurred in just four African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Somalia.

Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator, said his agency’s report sheds new light on what drives people to join fast-growing extremist groups. He stresses the importance of understanding why “violent extremist groups are able to both succeed in penetrating nation states, communities, and essentially spread their networks of influence.”

Nearly 2,200 men and women in eight countries — Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan — were interviewed for the study. More than 1,000 are former members of these groups, both voluntary and forced recruits.

At the core of this report, said Steiner, is the effort to identify what factors are most influential in persuading people to join extremist groups.

“Is it religion that is attracting people and radicalizing them or is it a push factor that has a great deal to do with the economic reality.”

The lead author of the report and regional peacebuilding adviser, Nirina Kiplagat, cites work, not religion, as the main driving force. She said one-quarter of voluntary recruits cited job opportunities and the urgent need of livelihoods as their primary reason for joining extremist groups.

“It is only 17% that cited religious ideologies for the primary reason motivating them to join and this is compared to 40% in 2017,” she said.

This is a reference to UNDP’s 2017 groundbreaking study, the first that attempted to understand the journeys to violent extremism.

Kiplagat adds women’s reasons for joining extremist groups differ from those of men.

“Women were less likely to join for ideological reasons and tended to join with family and in particular their spouses, their husbands.

“And what we find in contrast, is that male recruits tend to join with friends,” she said.

In another interesting finding, the report notes that an extra year in school decreases the odds of voluntary recruitment by 30%.

Between 2017 and 2021, UNDP reports extremist groups were responsible for 4,155 attacks in Africa and 18,417 fatalities.

Achim Steiner said he agrees the numbers are alarming, but that he believes too much emphasis is being placed on security-driven militarized responses to counter violent extremism.

He said militarized approaches often exacerbate the problem, yet they continue to predominate in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Nearly half of the respondents cited a specific trigger event that pushed them to join violent extremist groups,” he said. “And a striking 71% of those quoted human rights abuse often conducted by the state security forces as a tipping point.”

Steiner said violent extremism is not just a localized phenomenon. He said it also has a geopolitical dimension.

“Whether it is the Wagner group, whether it is the spread of Boko Haram or ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] or al-Qaida, we have seen that…once these groups gain a foothold,” this inevitably sometimes becomes part of a geopolitical drama or competition.

This, he said “is very much the tragedy for many African countries because they become part of a larger battleground.”

Wagner is a Kremlin-linked mercenary military group. Nigeria-based Boko Haram is a militant terrorist group that has killed thousands of people in its bid to force the government to adopt strict Islamic law.

The report explores pathways out of violent extremism. Most interviewed said they left the groups they had joined because their financial expectations were unmet, and they no longer agreed with the actions or ideology of the group’s leadership.

The report recommends greater investment in basic services including child welfare education, quality livelihoods, and investing in young men and women to counter and prevent violent extremism.

Lead author Kiplagat said, “Research shows those who decide to disengage from violent extremism are less likely to re-join and recruit others.

“This is why it is so important to invest in incentives that enable disengagement,” she said.

Source: Voice of America

QRCS mourns humanitarian personnel killed in earthquake

February 7th, 2023 ? Doha, Qatar: Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) announces the death of four personnel from its representation mission in Turkey, who were operating in Syria, as a result of the devastating earthquake that struck many countries yesterday, Monday.

The deceased are: (1) Nisreen Al-Hussein (psychosocial support professional at Salqin Clinic in Syria), (2) Doaa Yasser Ramadan (health system support pharmacist in Syria), Mustafa Al-Daghim (mobile clinic field officer at Al-Andalus Camp), and Mohannad Youssef Al-Aali (driver in Azmarin town).

Other personnel of the mission lost family members in Turkey and Syria because of the earthquake-caused destruction of residential buildings in the affected areas.

Ali bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, Secretary-General of QRCS, expressed his deep sorrow for the devastation caused by the earthquake, and the thousands of casualties, including four employees of QRCS’s representation mission in Turkey. He extended his sincere condolences to the families of the deceased, the two sister National Societies, and the Turkish and Syrian nations in this painful affliction.

Mr. Al-Hammadi said, “The tragedy affected some QRCS’s personnel working in Syria, as well as their families. To all of us, the agony is double, with the loss of dear colleagues who spared no effort to deliver humanitarian aid to the unfortunate people of Syria. Amid such an appalling tragedy, let’s pray for the deceased, the injured, the grieved nations, and all humanity”.

According to him, QRCS would keep supporting the victims both in Syria and Turkey, to relieve them and help them overcome the ordeal.

QRCS has already activated its emergency operations room and launched a $10 million fundraising campaign to provide more humanitarian aid. QRCS’s field personnel in northern Syria is currently distributing the first batch of emergency relief aid, consisting of 4,800 food parcels, for the benefit of the displaced Syrian families most affected by yesterday’s earthquake.

Pursuant to the directives of HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, ordering an airlift from Qatar to Turkey, QRCS prepared its contingency stock of relief materials in Doha to be deployed to the affected areas, in cooperation with Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) and Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).

The emergency relief shipment contains 35 tons of aid items, including 2,250 heavy blankets, 2,750 light blankets, 1,000 jerrycans, 3,000 mosquito nets, 2,000 tarpaulins, 500 shelter maintenance kits, and 1,360 family hygiene kits.

Source: Qatar Charity

US Demands Sudan Reverse Ruling That Freed Man Convicted in Envoy’s Killing

The United States on Thursday called on the Sudanese government to reverse a decision this week to release a Sudanese man facing the death penalty in the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2008.

Abdelraouf Abuzeid was found guilty, along with others, in the killing of American John Granville and a Sudanese colleague, who both worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and were killed by gunmen in Khartoum.

“We call on the Sudanese government to exercise all available legal means to reverse this decision and to rearrest Abuzeid,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

Officials met with the Sudanese ambassador to the United States on Thursday, and the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, is engaging Sudanese officials at the highest levels on the issue, Price said.

Peter Lord, the deputy assistant secretary for East Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, will also demand action when he travels to Khartoum next week, Price said.

“We will not relent,” Price said.

Abuzeid’s brother said Monday that his sibling had been released by Sudan’s high court based on a multimillion-dollar 2020 settlement between Sudan and victims of attacks, including the one that killed Granville.

The money received by Granville’s family from the Sudanese government was interpreted by a majority of the court as a release of their right to retribution and the acceptance of blood money, said a Sudanese legal source related to the case.

Granville’s mother, Jane Granville, said Wednesday that she was horrified about hearing of Abuzeid’s release.

“In no way did [the settlement] say that that money was going to release any of these men that killed John,” Jane Granville said. “I never would’ve accepted it if that was part of it.”

Price said the claim that Granville’s family had extended forgiveness was false.

U.S. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Abuzeid’s release was “outrageous.”

“This action further drives a wedge between the US and #Sudan, exposes the regime’s impunity, and complicates future US assistance,” Risch said on Twitter.

Source: Voice of America

Benin: Bus-truck collision kills 22, many from a blaze that broke out after the crash

COTONOU— Twenty-two people have died in a collision between a bus and a truck in the centre of the West African state of Benin, the government said.

The crash occurred on Sunday near Dassa-Zoume, “causing at least 22 deaths and many injured,” who are being treated in several clinics, it said in a statement.

The Baobab Express transport firm said the bus was travelling from Parakou to the economic capital Cotonou in the south with 40 passengers onboard.

Many of the passengers died in a blaze that broke out after the collision, the government said.

Baobab Express cancelled all its bus services as an official investigation was launched into the crash and the authorities set up a support unit for relatives.


Gunmen Kill Eight at Birthday Party in South Africa: Police

Gunmen opened fire on a group of people celebrating a birthday at the weekend in a township in South Africa, killing eight and wounding three others, police said Monday.

The birthday celebrant was among those gunned down in the mass shooting in the southern port city of Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth.

“The owner of the house was celebrating his birthday when two unknown gunmen entered the yard” on Sunday evening “and started shooting at the guests,” police said in a statement.

The gunmen “randomly shot at guests,” police said, adding “eight people died while three others are still fighting for their lives in hospital. The home owner is among the deceased.”

The motive of the attack is yet unknown.

Nomthetheleli Mene, the provincial police chief for the Eastern Cape province, condemned the killings as “a blatant disregard for human life.”

An investigation has been launched into the attack and police said a manhunt for the perpetrators was underway.

Shootings are common in South Africa, which has one of the world’s highest murder rates, fueled by gang violence and alcohol.

South Africa last year saw string of shootings that killed nearly two dozen at separate bars in working class suburbs in Johannesburg and in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner Fannie Masemola, and crime experts were scheduled to visit the scene of the attack later Monday morning.

Source: Voice of America

African Swine Fever Killed 256 Pigs In Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara

JAKARTA, The number of pig deaths suspected to be caused by the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara has reached 256.

“There were only 253 deaths at first, but now there are three more cases in North Central Timor Regency,” Nusa Tenggara Animal Husbandry Service official, Melky Angsar, told local media yesterday.

Since Dec 21 last year, the virus has spread to Kupang Regency, Kupang City, Ende Regency, East Flores Regency, Sikka Regency, South-west Sumba Regency, West Sumba Regency, and North Central Timor Regency.

To combat the infectious virus, the authorities have distributed 39,200 litres of disinfectant to farmers, and banned the movement of pigs in and out of the province.

The same swine flu also attacked East Nusa Tenggara in 2000, and killed thousands of pigs.

Source: Nam News Network

UN Chief Condemned Deadly Attack At DR Congo Church

UNITED NATIONS, United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, strongly condemned a deadly attack at a church, in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), his spokesman said, yesterday.

Citing preliminary reports, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, said, at least 12 civilians were killed and 50 others injured, when an explosive device was detonated during Sunday service, at a local church in Kasindi of the North Kivu province.

The United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, is providing medical evacuation to the injured, in coordination with Congolese authorities, Dujarric said.

Guterres “expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and the people and government of the DRC, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” said the spokesman.

The secretary-general stressed the need to hold the perpetrators of the attack to account, and noted that the United Nations Mine Action Service, is supporting the Congolese authorities in investigating the incident, he added.

Guterres also reiterated that, the United Nations, through his special representative in the DRC, will continue to support the Congolese government and people, in their efforts to realise peace and stability in the east of the country, the spokesman said.– NNN-XINHUA

Source: Nam News Network

Video showing soldiers burning corpses is latest evidence of atrocities in forgotten war in Cabo Delgado

In response to a video being circulated on social media purportedly showing soldiers throwing dead bodies onto a pile of burning household items in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah, said:

“The viral video showing soldiers burning corpses is another horrific event that gives a glimpse of what is going on away from the attention of international media in this forgotten war in Cabo Delgado.

“Tragically it appears that incidents of violence against civilians, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law are still occurring, as previously documented by Amnesty International.”

The video, which Amnesty International reviewed gained traction on social media on 10 January. The incident is believed to have taken place during the month of November 2022 in Cabo Delgado, where the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) regional force, which includes troops from the South African National Defence Force, has been fighting armed rebel groups since 2021 alongside Mozambique government forces.

The video also depicts at least one South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member, who is seen watching and filming the event. The South African National Defence Force released a statement on 10 January in which they acknowledged SANDF member(s) were present.

Tigere Chagutah said: “The burning of what appears to be dead bodies by soldiers is deplorable and is likely a violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the mutilation of corpses and requires that the dead be disposed of in a respectful manner.

“Mozambican authorities and SAMIM must launch a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the circumstances of these killings and the burning of the bodies and anyone against whom there is sufficient admissible evidence should be prosecuted in fair trials. Security in Cabo Delgado must not come at the cost of human rights violations.”


Attacks in Cabo Delgado started in October 2017 with killings of civilians by an armed group calling itself Al-Shabaab, which has no known operational relationship with Al-Shabaab in Somalia. SAMIM was established in 2021 to fight Al-Shabaab, and involves personnel from Rwanda, Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Amnesty International has previously revealed evidence of extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, attempted beheadings, torture, mutilation, and other ill-treatment of alleged Al-Shabaab fighters who were held, as well as the transfer of a large number of corpses to apparent mass graves in Cabo Delgado.

Source: Amnesty International

Grenade kills two children who mistook it for a toy; 6 injured

KINSHASA, Two children have died and six people have been wounded in eastern DR Congo after a grenade they discovered during a bird hunt exploded, local officials said.

A group of youngsters had been hunting for birds in a field near Ndunda, on the Ruzizi plain in South Kivu province, when they stumbled across the grenade.

“These children picked up the device that they confused with a toy, unaware that it was a grenade, and it exploded,” said Gerard Matibu Mupanzi, a local official.

He added that one three-year-old girl died in the blast on Monday afternoon, while an 11-year-old boy succumbed to his wounds the following morning.

Another six people, including three children, were wounded in the accident.

Lieutenant Marc Elongo, a spokesman for the Congolese military, said an army team had gone to Ndunda to investigate the incident.

Over 120 armed groups roam the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, many a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century.

Elie Vagheni, who works for the United Nations Mine Action Service in the region, suggested that armed groups were to blame for unexploded ordinances.

Source: Nam News Network