UN condemns increasing threat from terrorism in Africa

March 11, 2020 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the increasing threat to peace and security in Africa from terrorism Wednesday and urged all countries “to consider mobilizing more predictable resources and expertise” to strengthen African efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

A Chinese-sponsored presidential statement approved by all 15 council nations also urged the 193 U.N. member states and the United Nations system to take measures “to address all drivers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism.”

The council encouraged countries to foster quality education and provide employment opportunities and vocational training for young people and include them in all levels of decision-making, saying “such efforts contribute to countering recruitment to terrorism.”

U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that terrorism and violent extremism continue to grow in various part of the continent despite efforts to prevent and counter it.

She pointed to al-Shabab extremists threatening security in Somalia and East Africa and affiliates of the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups collaborating to stage increasingly sophisticated attacks in West Africa, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

DiCarlo also pointed to the Islamic State group’s continuing operations in Libya despite recent setbacks, adding that “it is restructuring and empowering its affiliates in eastern, southern and central Africa.” She said Islamic State affiliates and splinter groups including Boko Haram “continue to terrorize local populations and attack security forces” in the Sahel and Lake Chad basin.

The African Union’s U.N. ambassador, Fatima Kyari Mohammed, warned the council that “terrorism and violent extremism are assuming unprecedented scales of expansion and intensity within and beyond the African continent.”

“In addition to the situations in the Sahel, Lake Chad basin and the Horn of Africa, terrorism is now spreading to other parts of the continent, previously spared by this menace,” she said, without elaborating.

Mohammed said the tools used by terrorists are becoming increasingly sophisticated, citing as an example “drone terrorism.” She said that “terrorist groups have also perfected the art of recruitment, facilitated by the use of cyber platforms” and are attracting people vulnerable because of poverty and “ethnic and religious fissures.”

A statement from the council”s three African members — Tunisia, Niger and South Africa — said foreigners who fought with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria “are increasingly relocating into the continent,” mainly to areas where government presence is weak.

Such fighters exploit local grievances, poverty and lack of public services and security and they also “resort to the use of barbaric force against populations and they engage in cross border criminal activities,” said the statement, which was also signed by the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The statement added that some al-Qaida and IS groups “appear to be working together and coordinating attacks to grab large swaths of territory.”

DiCarlo said the U.N. “cannot overemphasize the importance of support” for the the G5 Sahel Force established by Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania to fight terrorism. She reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for international funding and military support for the force.