The new global epicenter of violent Islamic extremism is sub-Saharan Africa where people are increasingly joining because of economic factors, says a new report by the U.N.’s international development agency. “Sub-Saharan Africa has become the new global epicenter of violent extremism with 48% of global terrorism deaths in 2021,” UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said in a press briefing ahead of the report’s launch.
There has been a 57% decrease in the number of people joining extremist groups for religious reasons, it said. However, significant increase of 92% of new recruits to extremist groups are joining for better livelihoods compared to the motivations of those interviewed in a previous report released in 2017, according to the UNDP report released on Tuesday.
Many Africans have seen their lives have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, and climate change, said the report.
Nearly 2,200 people were interviewed for the report in eight African countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan. More than 1,000 interviewees are former members of violent extremist groups, both voluntary and forced recruits, said the report.
At least 4,155 attacks across Africa were documented since in 2017, said the report. In these attacks, 18,417 deaths were recorded in the continent with Somalia accounting for the largest number of fatalities.
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