Tackling violent extremism
In places where bombs shatter lives and militants rule the streets, joining an extremist group can seem like the only option for survival. Children surrounded by militant messages can be persuaded to become weapons of war. Poverty, instability and a lack of practical alternatives leads others to join militant groups.
As the world grapples with the best way to combat extremist and stop radicalisation, local organisations in the grip of militancy are showing the importance of dialogue, early intervention and education.
Through personalised, local and peer-to-peer approaches, they tackle some of the root causes of extremism and violence and support young people at risk of recruitment to turn away from violence.
Why it matters
Gulalai Ismail director of local organisation Aware Girls said: “The world has suddenly awakened to the problem of violent extremism but this is a problem we’ve been dealing with in Pakistan for many years. We have a lot to contribute and the world can learn from us.
“Any policy that creates more stigmatisation and alienation will do more harm. We try to give an alternative perspective of non-violence and pluralism. We talk about peace and how we see peace. These are young children and we should not see them as enemies.
“It will take time but we will have more dialogue with them. It’s been a huge success that these madrassas and children have opened up to us. Even if it is dangerous, we should talk.”
We are determined to support local people to combat radicalisation and extremism in their communities.
AU-UN IST PHOTO / Tobin Jones
What we do
In Pakistan, in the deeply conservative tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we support local partner Aware Girls and their network of young volunteers who are dedicated to saving their peers from indoctrination and radicalisation. Aware Girls send out teams of peace educators to villages, towns and schools, to identify and dissuade individuals likely to join extremist groups. The work is intensive and personalised, undertaken at great personal risk.
In Somalia we work with local partner SADO to train young men and women at risk of militia recruitment to become mechanics, electricians and tailors – providing a practical alternative to a life of violence.
We work to reduce militarised approaches and lift up nonviolent approaches to preventing and addressing the problem of political violence and violent extremism, highlighting the work of our local peacebuilding partners in places like Pakistan and Somalia.