Migori County Administration has established a multi-agency team to spearhead issues geared towards preventing and countering violent extremism in the region.
The team drawing its membership from the police, national and county heads of departments and, the youth, will be charged with sustaining countywide campaigns against aspects that are likely to promote terrorism within the region.
It will also work towards striking collaborative efforts of the civil society, the local community, the faith-based groups, the scholars, the private sector and political actors to generally complement the war against terrorism in the area and Kenya at large.
Addressing a cross-section of stakeholders during a meeting of the team to re-energize the County Rapid Action Plan on the Prevention and Countering Violent Extremisms (R-CAP) in Migori town yesterday, County Commissioner Mr. Michael Mwangi Meru said that it was the responsibility of every person in the region to expose illegal groups out to radicalize the local population and especially the youth who are more vulnerable.
He underscored the need for the local people to strive to block all the opportunities for terrorist groups to recruit from the region by educating the masses on the dangers of violent extremist ideology.
Meru identified the youth as being too vulnerable and being the targeted group for acts of violence and extremism. “We have to talk to our sons and daughters not to allow them to be preyed upon by the heartless extremists and to be intoxicated with bad ideas that can destroy their families,” he said.
“It is also important that we equip them with knowledge and skills on how to identify perpetrators of violence and extremist behaviour,” he added.
He emphasised on the need for the local leadership to always engage parents on matters to inculcate good characters in their children noting that it was also important to protect the young from the socio-economic and political circumstances that are likely to influence them to become extreme violent against their own society.
The CC noted that unemployment was one of the key factors that drive youths to violence and extremism, adding that it was important to bring everybody on board to help address the matters concerning the youth.
He identified schools and colleges as fertile areas where the bad elements in the society always target to exploit for new recruits of terrorism activities.
The fact that Migori is a cosmopolitan county and sits along an international border requires that agencies charged with security matters be more proactive in security surveillance in order to deal with cases of arms smuggling and illicit entries of foreigners.
Despite all these challenges, he said the administration in the area had put all the necessary measures through public barazas, Nyumba Kumi, rallies and churches to educate the masses on the dangers that lurk when a big number of the youth become radicalized.
During the forum, participants adopted five areas that stood out to be pillars to help realise their efforts to fight radicalization and terrorism in the region.
These included problems arising from ideological, economic and education issues as well as gender and, media and internet aspects that were identified as likely to influence the youth to turn violent.
Mwangi emphasised that political, education and psychosocial pillars were some of the aspects that can help curb violence and extremism among the youths. He said that these pillars will help to train and nurture youths to make decision based on informed choices.
Psychosocial pillars will help de-radicalize and economically empower and capacity built the youth to be better citizens.
He called upon the media to help to disseminate positive messages and enlighten youths on extremist groups and at the same time stressed the need for community based organisations and NGOs to partner with the county and national government to come up with Private Public Partnership to help build security aspect.
Through this partnership, a home grown solution to problems facing our youths and community would be found to address conflict resolution and peace among the communities.
So far the county has not experienced any form of extremism but said that, this does not mean that there is none, the administrator noted.
By George Agimba