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Fighting Boko Haram useless when many are poor, jobless: ECOWAS

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The Vice President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Finda Koroma says the only successful way to fight terrorism within the region is to attack its root causes.

”The ECOWAS Commission understands that it would be illusionary to fight against terrorism without attacking its root causes, such as bad or in some cases, weak governance, poverty, youth unemployment and human rights abuses,” Ms Koroma noted. “This need to address the root causes of violent extremism was specifically mentioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism of December 2015.”

Ms Koroma said this at the inauguration of the Early Warning Study on the Spillover of Violent Extremism to ECOWAS Coastal Member States in Abuja on Monday.

She added, ”This Plan of Action asserts that structural factors such as the lack of prospects for youth or unemployment, contribute largely to their adherence to the agenda of terrorist groups which they find attractive and therefore consider as an alternative likely to offer a better tomorrow for them.”

Concerning the root causes in the prevention and the fight against terrorism, Ms Koroma added that the ECOWAS Commission had made security and development a major area of focus, amongst others.

Ms Koroma explained that data from the ECOWAS Alert and Response Network (ECOWARN) showed terrorist incidents perpetrated by Boko Haram alone resulted in more than 30,000 deaths in less than 10 years of subversive activities.

She said this was in addition to the physical attacks on the populations and the territorial integrity of ECOWAS’ member states.

Ms Koroma lamented terrorism had left unprecedented humanitarian consequences, with more than three million people displaced in the sub-region.

“After North-East of Nigeria, the Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel, the Nothern Part of Mali, the threats escalated in the Liptako-Gourma region, made up of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. From the North of Mali and Burkina Faso, violent extremist groups conducted years back, attacks in the southern part of these members states,” added Ms Koroma. “Since 2019, the southwestern regions of Burkina Faso have seen an escalation of jihadist presence from JNIM’s Katibat Macina, who are present in the Cascades region and in the forests along the Ivorian border.”

(NAN)

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