COP 23-Column: Addressing Youth Radicalization and Extremism beyond Hunger and Unemployment
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COP 23-Column: Addressing Youth Radicalization and Extremism beyond Hunger and Unemployment

COP 23-Column: Addressing Youth Radicalization and Extremism beyond Hunger and Unemployment By Tabi Joda* The mantra One of the most turbulent distractions to mainstream global issues is perhaps, youth radicalization and extremism. The deleterious effects of climate change and natural disasters have increased unsustainable socioeconomic practices. Unfortunately, global and local actors seem to misunderstand the potential and actual motivations surrounding this emerging phenomenon. The mantra of hunger and unemployment is dominating local and international debates on the question. But there is apparently more to the question of radicalization and extremism, in relation to hunger and youths unemployment, than it reaches mainstream understanding.   There is global awe about a suddenly obvious proliferation of youth subscription into insurgent activities often propelled by extremist ideologies. That is a known fact. Vis-à-vis present demographic transitions, there is an ever rising trend of misguided population movements from rural peripheries into urban metropolis leading to alarmingly loud concentration of desperate youths in city centres especially in Africa. To that effect, it is ever more imperative to identify the vulnerabilities upon which youth radicalization and extremism lies. The complications get even worse when we try to answer the question why youths are increasingly being agents of destruction instead of being productive members of their communities.   Different narratives These trends have provoked several narratives from different development angels. But whether these narratives exist in cluster or not, the question at stake is as we feel the impacts of Boko haram insurgents in North East Nigeria and Far North of Cameroon, Alshabaab insurgents in almost all of Somalia including Kenya and beyond, and the Tuareg insurgent groups in Mali who are just about to completely retreat into the deserts, are these narratives based on old thinking or do they offer new thinking, new forms of measurement and research into the root causes of why youths are increasingly being radicalized and mobilized into extreme groups.   Much has been argued about tackling the unemployment crises that is keeping many youth idle and leaving them vulnerable as destructive agents rather than constructive ones. Other arguments have emerged about the question of alleviating youth poverty as a critical step to mitigating exposure of youths to radicalization through extremist groups. These assumptions are good, but it remains to be seen if the discussion will in fact lead to more research and a greater focus on evidence-based approaches tackling the root causes of the issues. “Development efforts have often been driven by assumptions and not evidence,” said Keith Proctor, a senior policy researcher at Mercy Corps. In a summit held a few years ago at the White House about countering violent extremism, the...

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