Africa now ‘global epicentre’ of terrorism: UN chief


In just a matter of years, Africa has become the “global epicentre of terrorism”, with groups such as Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates exploiting local conflicts and fragilities to serve their own ends, the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday, calling for violent extremism to be rooted out.

Speaking at a meeting in New York on counter-terrorism initiatives across the continent, António Guterres said terror groups were “shredding the social fabric of entire countries with the blades of violence, mistrust and fear”.

“Community by community, terrorist groups are extending their reach,” he said, adding that networks are widening, adding fighters and resources, and making common cause with transnational organized crime.

“In every case, civilians are paying the highest price and, in the end, all of humanity pays.”

‘Fight this inferno now’ 

Addressing an audience of counter-terrorism experts, government officials, and civil society and private sector representatives, Mr. Guterres said the crisis must be tackled head on before it spins out of control.

He highlighted initiatives such as the multinational task force in the Lake Chad Basin countering Boko Haram, and the African Union’s Transition Mission in Somalia, as well as Security Council resolution 2719 on financing of AU-led peace support operations.

“But we need urgent action, on a much larger scale than we’ve seen to date,” the UN chief said.

Emphasize prevention

The root causes of terrorism – fragility and instability – must be addressed, he continued, emphasizing the New Agenda for Peace he launched last July.

He said efforts to counter terrorism must be anchored in human rights and strategies focus on the marginalized and vulnerable.

Two-day meeting

The top level meeting of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact, will address rising violence and the spread of terrorist networks.

Participants will also consider how counter-terrorism efforts can be aligned with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063.

Launched in 2018, the Counter-Terrorism Compact is a network of 46 UN and non-UN entities. It also includes INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, and the Financial Action Task Force, which combats money laundering and terrorism financing.

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