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Few Kenyan youths joining Al Shabaab Government says

By Kunow Abdullahi | Published Sun, July 22nd 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 21st 2018 at 22:48 GMT +3
KNCHR CEO Benard Mogesa during the three day workshop on non-violent approach to countering extremism said fewer youth joining Al Shabaab and ISIS. [File, Standard]

The number of Kenyan youth joining terror groups such Al Shaabab and Islamic State in Somalia (ISIS) has greatly reduced, the government has said.

According to Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the number of Kenyan youth who are missing has declined and fewer families are complaining about missing relatives.

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Speaking to journalists during a three day workshop on non-violent approach to countering extremism KNCHR CEO Bernard Mogesa said rehabilitated youth and returnees still face stigma and rejection from communities and locals.

“There is a need for integration and inculcation of values in their lives that will make them feel loved and appreciated by the community, irrespective of their status,” Mogesa said.

They still view them as a threat and people who cannot be changed into better citizens.

“There is a need for integration and inculcation of values in their lives that will make them feel loved and appreciated by the community, irrespective of their status,” Mogesa said.

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He urged the government to ensure the youth are engaged, saying that joblessness pushes them to join terror groups.

Some families have complained that their relatives who voluntarily return and surrender to the police disappear and are found murdered.

The majority of the disappearances are in Northeastern and the Coast regions. Many residents accuse security agencies involved in the fight against terrorism.

Mogesa said the government has an obligation to protect, respect and fulfill human rights for all.

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“As a nation we need to account for all our citizens. Even if it is one person who has disappeared let us know where they have gone and ensure that we reintegrate them into society,” he said.

“To those who have not returned, we want to tell them that this is your country. We all need a peaceful country that can thrive and be counted among the nations in the world that are prospering,” Mogesa added.

Bonaventure Chengeek, programme coordinator at ACT Kenya, said they are building support and resilience networks by bringing in stakeholders like communities, CBOs and civil society. The organisation works on countering terrorism.

Chengeek said his organisation will partner with the county government, the ministry of Education and religious institutions to teach teenagers about violent extremism.

He said their research shows poverty and unemployment are the major drivers pushing many youths into terror networks.

Chengeek urged parents to keep close watch over their children and know their friends and what they do together.

At least 700 Kenyans have returned home after quitting al Shabaab and the Islamic State in Somalia since 2015 after they were offered amnesty by the government. 

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