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UN General Secretary Warns of Terrorism Surge in Africa

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, stressed the critical need to stop the spread of terrorism in Africa, calling the situation a “clear and present danger” to both the continent and the rest of the world.  

In a speech at the Global Counter-Terrorism Compact conference held at the UN headquarters in New York, the secretary-general said that terrorism represents the polar opposite of these ideals. In his remarks, the secretary-general emphasized the concerning rise in terrorist activity in Africa. “Africa has emerged as a global hub for terrorism in a matter of years,” he said. Creating a coordinated strategy against terrorism among nations, regional bodies, and the global community, supporting the tracking of illegal cash flows and judicial collaboration.

Rising Terrorism Threat

In order to combat the underlying causes of terrorism, which are fragility and instability, the New Agenda for Peace must be implemented. The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact’s high-level conference will discuss the growth of terrorist networks and the increase in bloodshed. Participants will also think about how counterterrorism initiatives may complement the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The Counter-Terrorism Compact is a network of 46 UN and non-UN organizations that was established in 2018. It also consists of the Financial Action Task Force, which fights money laundering and the funding of terrorists, and INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization. Terrorist acts have a significant influence on commerce both within and between industries. They also destabilize people’s sense of security and safety, and a key danger to peace and security is economic uncertainty. Likewise, these assaults erode the economic frameworks, increasing the susceptibility of African nations.

Root Causes and Contributing Factors

A senior UN official has cautioned that attempts to curb armed groups associated with al-Qaeda, ISIL (ISIS), and other organizations have not succeeded in halting their growth in Africa’s Sahel area. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Martha Pobee warned that instability will spread to coastal West African nations in the absence of increased international support and regional collaboration. “There is an urgent need to make resolute progress in the Sahelian fight against terrorism, violent extremism, and organized crime,” stated Pobee. 

“The destabilization of the Sahel would have devastating effects that would extend far beyond the African continent and region.” A counterterrorism group that currently includes Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad lost Mali a year ago when the country’s ruling generals chose to withdraw. According to Pobee, the unit hasn’t carried out any significant military actions.

Humanitarian Consequences

During the subsequent discussion, members of the Council issued a warning that Da’esh is expanding its operations in spite of UN-coordinated efforts to combat terrorism, especially in Africa, where they are fostered by ongoing wars and local grievances.  Many also emphasized the necessity of taking action to improve the grave humanitarian conditions that continue to exist in the northern Syrian prison facilities, which provide Da’esh with an excellent environment in which to attract new supporters. 

The senior UN official urged swift, extensive action, citing successful counterterrorism operations from the African Union and the Multinational Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin as examples. He underlined that human rights and inclusive, sustainable development are essential pillars in the battle against terrorism. He stated, “Fragility and instability are the breeding grounds for terrorism,” emphasizing the need for an all-encompassing strategy that links sustainable peace, governance, and development. 

The secretary-general brought out the suffering of women and girls, who are frequently the first and hardest impacted, as a reminder of the human cost of terrorism, giving instances from Nigeria and Iraq. He emphasized that human rights must be given top priority in counterterrorism efforts. We cannot continue to fight (terrorism) by denying reality.

Final Words

In conclusion, Guterres referred to Africa as “the home of hope” and shared his optimism for the continent’s future. He demanded that the shadow of terrorism be removed immediately and cooperatively. “Let’s keep standing together and forming fresh ideas to lift this darkness, once and for all for Africa, for Africans, and for the world we share.” The UN delegate underlined that there is no religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group that should be connected to terrorism.  She declared, “Terrorism is an unjustifiable crime,” and cautioned against referring to terrorist organizations, especially Da’esh, by name under religious slogans.  The idea that there is nothing Islamic about terrorism is compromised when the UN and the Council refer to the group as the “Islamic State.”


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