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UN report : Poverty, not religious ideology, driving African youth into extremism.

BRUSSELS, Oct 23 (KUNA) -- Deprivation , poverty and marginalization, underpinned by weak governance, are primary forces driving young Africans into violent extremism, according to a new study by the UN Development Program (UNDP), presented in Brussels on Monday. "It isn't religious ideology that drives them into extremism," Barbara Pesce Monteiro - Director of the UN/UNDP Representation Office in Brussels, told a press conference presenting the report titled "Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment." "The steep rise in violent extremism in Africa is a threat to global peace, stability and development. Between 2011 and early 2016, some 33,000 men, women and children have lost their lives in violent extremist attacks," she noted. Based on interviews with 495 voluntary recruits to extremist organizations such as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, the new study also found that it is often perceived state violence or abuse of power that provides the final tipping point for the decision to join an extremist group. On his part, Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Regional Program Coordinator, UNDP Africa Hubm, said the data shows that contrary to popular narratives, those who join extremist groups tend to have lower levels of religious or formal education and less understanding of the meaning of religious texts. "Although more than half of respondents cited religion as a reason for joining an extremist group, 57 percent of respondents also admitted to understanding little to nothing of the religious texts or interpretations, or not reading religious texts at all," he said. Indeed, the study suggests that actually understanding one's religion can strengthen resilience to the pull of extremism: among those interviewed, receiving at least six years of religious schooling was shown to reduce the likelihood of joining an extremist group by as much as 32 percent. Recruitment in Africa occurs mostly at the local, person-to-person level, rather than online, he noted. The study calls on governments to reassess militarized responses to extremism in the light of respect for the rule of law and human rights commitments Ahmed Hadji, survivor of terrorist attack from Uganda, related his dreadful experience. He has now formed a Muslim Youth Development Forum to combat radicalization and extremism. (end) nk.msa

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Oct 23, 2017
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