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Terrorist groups ‘explode power vacuums’, warns UN chief

While the number of deaths from terrorism has decreased, the overall threat is far from over, particularly in Africa, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in New York on Wednesday.

Mr. Guterres was on his way to the latest meeting of the UN Global Compact for Coordination against Terrorism, which brings together more than 40 UN agencies, member states and other partners.

The threat of terrorism to Africa is increasing, he told participants.

Sub-Saharan Africa represented 48 percent deaths attributed to terrorist groups globally last year.

Exploiting weaknesses

“Groups like Al-Qaida, Da’esh and their affiliates continue to grow in the Sahel and venture into Central and Southern Africa. They are exploiting power vacuums, long-standing inter-ethnic struggles, internal weaknesses, and state fragilities,” he said.

In conflict-affected countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Somalia, terrorism has intensified cycles of violence, fueling further instability, undermining peace efforts and delaying development goals.

Meanwhile, in largely peaceful countries like Mozambique and Tanzania, terrorists now seek to exploit and manipulate social grievances and mistrust of governments.

Reconciliation and reintegration

Despite these challenges, Guterres was convinced that progress is possiblebased on his visit last month to Borno State in northern Nigeria.

Formerly a stronghold of the Boko Haram extremist group, the region is now on the path to reconciliation and reintegration.

“I was so impressed by the meetings that I had with ex-combatants in one of the centers, with the meetings that I had with the victims, and with this feeling that Boko Haram, which was born in Borno state, is now clearly losing ground because people have they largely assumed, themselves, the ability to undermine the terrorist work and actions of Boko Haram,” he said.

Put human rights first

The Secretary-General stressed that the international community cannot deal effectively with terrorism without addressing the conditions conducive to its spread, such as weak institutions, inequalities, poverty, hunger and injustice.

The UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy takes an integrated and holistic approach to the problem, calling for investment in health, education, protection, gender equality and justice systems accessible to all.

“It means creating truly democratic systems and processes, so that every person can have a voice in the future of their communities and countries, and trust that their voices will be heard and reflected,” he said. “It means putting human rights and the rule of law at the foundation of our work.”

Mr. Guterres said that the UN Terrorism Compact will continue to support countries in their efforts against terrorism, including through technical assistance, capacity development and helping to build institutions that are people-centered and grounded in in human rights and rule. Of law.

The Compact is the largest coordination framework between the three pillars of UN work: peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights and humanitarian affairs.

It was developed after the establishment of the United Nations Office on Terrorism (UNOCT) in June 2017, considered the Secretary-General’s first major institutional reform after taking office in January.

More cooperation needed

In his opening remarks, UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov highlighted the threat in Africa.

“The increase in terrorist activities, both in conflict and non-conflict situations, has continued fuel chaos and the death of innocent civilians. This amplifies tensions between communities and humanitarian crises, and undermines the authority and development of the state,” he said.

“The magnitude of the challenge is compounded by complex relationships between terrorists, armed groups and criminal networksas well as the political upheaval caused by the recent coups d’etat”.

Mr. Voronkov underlined that the transnational nature of terrorism requires closer international cooperation with regional organizations and partners on the ground, including the African Union, which goes hand in hand with the recently opened UNOCT Program Offices in Kenya. and Morocco.

He also welcomed the two newest members of the Compact family: the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

New global initiative

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), highlighted how her staff are working with partners to help African countries promote responses to terrorism.

Examples include continued support to Nigeria to strengthen investigation, prosecution and due process in terrorism cases, especially in the northeast where Boko Haram is active.

UNODC will soon launch a new Global Program to Prevent and Counter Terrorism with the aim of contributing to the implementation of the UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he said.

It will focus on results that include the strengthening of terrorism prevention measures, with the active and equal participation of women girls youngY civil societyand foster responsible criminal justice institutions that uphold human rights.

Read more at the United Nations

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