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I attended the International Prevention of Violent Extremism summit in Nairobi

This week, the International Prevention of Violent Extremism commemoration brought together a diverse array of organisations, leaders, and communities across the globe for a collective sustainable response to violent extremism. I left feeling buoyed.

In Nairobi, participants from various backgrounds showcased a collective effort to address the global challenge of violent extremism.

Representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), interfaith leaders, youths, refugee groups, and government officials were among the attendees – as was I – highlighting the inclusive nature of the initiative.

Champions of Peace Kenya, a leading organisation dedicated to promoting peace and countering violent extremism, took the reins as host. The event aimed not only to raise awareness about the significance of preventing violent extremism but also to foster collaboration among different sectors of society. The feeling of shared investment was palpable in the room.

According to the UN, Sub-Saharan Africa is the new global epicentre of 48% of global terrorism deaths for the past 3 years. Lack of employment opportunities, human rights abuses, and religion were the main drivers of youths joining violent extremist groups. With the ongoing war in Sudan and the DRC, hundreds of young people continue to be radicalised into joining nefarious groups.

The CoP-K Director Elly Opondo urged the global community that young people should be put on the governance agenda at the regional or global level; a sentiment I was hoping would receive real emphasis.

‘Young people feel they are out of the governance system, they feel they are out of discussions that affect their lives, and this has caused radicalization to these groups to increase in our continent and beyond in recent times.’

Youth engagement was a focal point of the commemoration, with interesting discussions and interactive sessions designed to empower young people in preventing radicalization. The active participation of the youth highlighted their role as key stakeholders in shaping a peaceful and tolerant society through Africa and beyond.

The UNODC representative Programme Support Officer, Hope Kemama, delivered a keynote address emphasising the importance of international effort to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and promoting sustainable peace.

Refugee groups, often disproportionately affected by the consequences of violent extremism, were given a platform to share their experiences and perspectives also.

Their stories served as a poignant reminder of the human cost of extremism and reinforced the need for comprehensive strategies to address the challenges faced by a growing number of displaced communities.

Within Africa, this population is reportedly around four million when combining the respective communities from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Interfaith leaders insisted on the power of religious communities to contribute to dialogue, tolerance, and understanding. Their presence conveyed a strong message of unity, transcending faith and cultural boundaries to collectively address the challenges posed by violent extremism.

Nairobi County Commissioner, David Wanyonyi, expressed his personal commitment to support ideas and projects to stem the problem. The government actively becoming part of the event showed how it’s crucial for everyone – both in bureaucracy and businesses – to work together in different ways to systematically tackle terror groups.

With several reforms being drafted already, the International Prevention of Violent Extremism commemoration not only serves as a platform for reflection but also as a catalyst for sustained action towards a more peaceful and secure future globally.

Having imbibed myself in the summit’s many events, I’m certainly more hopeful upon leaving.