Growing conflict has weakened the response to terrorism, says Igad

Dr. Worknch Gebeyehu speaks to African leaders during the State of African Region at the Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

An intergovernmental agency has warned that conflict in the region has weakened the response to al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (Igad) also found that in addition to conflicts and Covid-19, the two challenges of drought and floods are seriously threatening food security in the region.

In his speech on the state of the region over the weekend at the Sarova Whitesands beach resort in Mombasa, Igad Executive Secretary Dr Kenya noted the recent bombings in Uganda.

“Regional peace and security have also experienced some setbacks due to the effects of these active conflicts,” Gebeheyu said.

He added; “The main concern is a weakening of the regional response to Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups. We are also aware of the prospect that these conflicts will facilitate the further spread of illegal firearms in the region. ”

He noted that a global report on food crises showed that an estimated 37.2 million or one in seven people in the Igad region will be acutely food insecure.

Igad represents Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.

He noted that the cocktail of climate change, conflict and Covid-19 continues to drive displacement in the Igad region as a result of the challenges they pose for people’s physical, economic and social security.

“In the Igad region we have one of the highest displacement rates of around five percent of a total of 12.3 million people, including 4.2 million refugees and 8.1 million internally displaced people,” said Gebeyehu.

He noted that Igad was concerned that Africa had seen an 83 percent increase in Covid-19 infections in the last week alone, attributed to the Delta and Omicron variants of Covid-19, which are more communicable and resistant to selected vaccines are.

“I must therefore warn that, given these factors, Igad and Africa as a whole may now be even more vulnerable than before to the worst effects of this pandemic,” he said.

He expressed concern that the average vaccination rate in the Igad region was only 6.6 percent.

“This compares to a world average of 42.7 percent, or seven times more than we vaccinated our people,” he said.

He noted that the focus of Igad’s biggest challenges this year has shifted from natural hazards from the Covid-19 pandemic, desert locust invasions and floods to focus on peace and security.

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