The UN Development Programme Tuesday reported that unemployment plays a key role in pushing people to join extremist groups in the Southern Sahara. The report indicates a 92 percent increase in the number of volunteer recruits pushed to such groups due to lack of jobs since the last such study conducted in 2017.
The report states:
The surge in violent extremism in sub-Saharan Africa undermines hard-won development gains and threatens to hold back progress for generations to come. The need to improve understanding of what drives violent extremism in Africa, and what can be done to prevent it, has never been more urgent.
The study included over 1000 interviewees who were former members of extremist groups recruited either freely or voluntarily. Employment was “the primary driver of recruitment, reflecting generalized grievances of socioeconomic injustice and marginalization.” A staggering 48 percent of voluntary recruits also acknowledged triggering events such as human rights violations by national militia as the reason they joined the violent extremist groups.
Based on the report, the second factor that pressed individuals to join these groups was peer pressure from family and friends. This was true for women who joined the extremist group alongside their spouses. The report also identified religious beliefs as the third recruitment driver. However, the figure appears to have decreased by 57 percent since the 2017 report, and only 17 percent of the interviewed recruits cited religious beliefs as a factor.
Other factors that have contributed to people joining violent groups, as stated in the report, include isolation and lack of exposure to others, an absence of parental involvement in a child’s upbringing, a lack of basic education and widespread dissatisfaction with the government.
The report also identified several factors that cause recruits to leave extremist groups, including mistrust in the group’s leadership and unmet financial expectations.