Ethiopia: AU stresses public awareness to resist extremist narrative in Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Associations of victims of terrorism in Africa are not only an important tool for speaking out against extremist violence, but also a key area for the African Union (AU) agenda for the prevention and combating of terrorism and violent extremism, a senior official of the continental body said Thursday.

"It is essential that we join our efforts to counter the narrative of terrorists and extremists, while testifying to the negative effects of terrorist attacks on the lives of ordinary people," said Tarek A. Sharif, Head of Defence and Security Division of the AU Peace and Security Department at the opening of a two-day workshop in Addis Ababa for the Network of African Associations of Victims of Terrorist Acts.

Sharif said that groups of either direct and secondary victims as well as survivors of terrorist acts or the wider society affected by terrorism, offer a unique opportunity to educate society through providing a counter-narrative that discourages radicalization and violent extremism.

"In the aftermath of a terrorist attack, the immediate attention is often turned to the perpetrators, leaving traumatized survivors to grieve and suffer in silence.

"Working with victims strengthens their voices and feeds into the prevention of terrorism, including changing the perceptions of society," he said.

Sharif underlined cooperation between governments and victims’ associations as an essential factor in giving hope to survivors.

The government of Japan has, through the UN Development Programme, financed the workshop in supporting the broader efforts of the AU to assist member States to meet their obligations in the prevention and combating of terrorism.

According to the Peace and Security Department, the workshop is a follow-up to the AU Symposium on victims of terrorist acts that was held in Algiers, Algeria, in October 2014, in which participants called for the establishment of a Network of African Associations of Victims of Terrorist Acts.

"This approach does not only seek to enhance the resilience of the communities to resist the appeal of extremist ideologies, but also community-based information," Sharif pointed out, emphasising the role of women in countering violent extremism.

"A better understanding of the threat will contribute to enhanced prevention of violent extremism and terrorism," he said, expressing optimism that the network will contribute to ensuring that no terrorist victim suffers alone.
-0- PANA AR 17Nov2016

17 november 2016 19:15:56

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