Morocco to host regional counter terrorism centre for Africa

Mr Nasser Bourita, Foreign Minister of Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco and the United Nations signed Tuesday via videoconference a “Headquarters Agreement” for the establishment of the United Nations Programme Office for Counter -Terrorism and Training in Africa – under the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).

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The agreement which was jointly signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Mr Nasser Bourita, and the United Nations Under Secretary General of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, is to set up a centre to consolidate and coordinate the efforts of the Africa region to meet the challenges posed by the growing terrorist threat in Africa in recent years.

 The centre, the first of its kind in Africa, will also “strengthen the capacity of member States through the development of national training programmes in the fight against terrorism,” disclosed Mr Bourita, who was speaking on the side-lines of the signing ceremony.

The Minister assured that Morocco was committed to working with this new structure to create a dynamic portfolio of cutting-edge training that will evolve and adapt to its mission to detect, prevent and prosecute terrorist activities.

To achieve this objective, Mr Bourita asserted that “our actions must be in perfect harmony with the needs of African States”, adding that “our efforts should be complimentary to the various initiatives launched by member countries, with the contribution of Muslim Scholars from these countries.”

The establishment of this centre, which is the result of more than nine months of hard work, comes at a time when Africa is reeling from an “alarming” 31 percent upsurge in terrorist acts since 2011 which increased to 4,100 attacks in the first half of 2020, whereas the number of deaths due to terrorism jumped by 26 percent in one year – thus 12,507 compared to 9,944 in the first half of 2019.

In the Sahel, the scene of the most significant upsurge in violence, the acts of Jamaa’a Nusratul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM) and Daesh have increased seven-fold since mid-2017, the Minister said.

In Lake Chad, the number of victims of Boko Haram and Daesh terrorist attacks has nearly doubled since June 2017, from 506 to 964, Mr Bourita added.

These figures, the Minister concluded, underscore that Africa needs, more than ever, to take “immediate and determined” action to stabilize the continent, consolidate its security and enable it to focus on sustainable development.

The signing ceremony took place in the presence of the Kingdom of Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Omar Hilale.

SOURCE: Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, Accra, Ghana

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