UNDP study examines the factors driving young Africans towards violent extremism

Journey To Extremism In Africa:
Drivers, incentives and the tipping point for recruitment

The Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping Point for Recruitment presents the results of a two-year UNDP Africa study aimed to generate improved understanding about the incentives and drivers of violent extremism, as expressed by recruits to the continent’s deadliest groups themselves. Deprivation and marginalisation, underpinned by weak state governance, are the primary forces driving young Africans towards violent extremism, according to a comprehensive new study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The study distils the conditions and factors that shape the dynamics of the radicalisation process that leads some young Africans to join extremist groups.

Based on interviews with 495 voluntary recruits to extremist organisations such as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram, the new study found that perceived state violence or abuse of power often acts as the final tipping point behind the decision taken by a young person to join an extremist group. The results of the studies are presented on a very well structured website and easy to access. 

This publication highlights a number of policy recommendations for responding to violent extremism in Africa. One of the main recommendations presented by the study is encouraging states to deliver on global human rights commitments and rights-based approaches to militarised and state-centric counter-terrorism responses. The research underlines key anti-extremism entry points, such as capitalising on religious teaching as a source of resilience, and supporting the voices of traditional religious leaders who challenge misinterpretations of Islam and preach religious tolerance.


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