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Journey to extremism in Africa

For two years, the UNDP Regional Office for Africa conducted a study to understand why some individuals rally behind major extremist groups in Africa. Based on hundreds of interviews with activists from these movements, the results of this study have been published in a report entitled, “Journey to extremism in Africa: Drivers, incentives and the tipping point for recruitment.” According to this study, a recruit’s typical profile is someone who has been marginalised and neglected since infancy, who comes from a border area or peripheral region that has been marginalised for generations, and who is economically frustrated and in urgent need of employment. Resentment towards government and the state is also a major factor; for 71% of respondents, government action was the trigger that made them join an extremist group. The study also notes that the religious driver is not a main factor and that on the contrary, a high level of religious studies reduces the probability of an individual enrolling in an extremist group. According to UNDP estimates, some 33 300 people in Africa lost their lives because of acts of extremist violence between 2011 and early 2016. A book and a photographic exhibition were produced to accompany the study.