The United States has partnered with the countries of East Africa to counter violent extremism. On a recent trip to Kenya and Djibouti, U.S. Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Michael Ortiz met with senior government officials, local and county officials, and members of civil society who are working to counter terrorism and violent extremism.
Kenya fulfilled its pledge to host a regional countering violent extremism or CVE Summit in June 2015 and is emerging as a regional leader on this issue. In recent months, the Kenyan government introduced a national countering violent extremism strategy and appointed a senior-level diplomat to lead and coordinate implementation of the strategy’s action plan. During his trip, Deputy Coordinator Ortiz discussed with Kenyan officials the importance of partnering with communities and civil society.
He also emphasized President Barack Obama’s and Secretary John Kerry's message that protecting human rights and building trust in security forces is essential to preventing and countering radicalization. Mr. Ortiz underscored that Kenya can benefit greatly by working closely with civil society, religious leaders, and its international security partners to end violent extremism.
Online recruitment and radicalization to violence remain serious challenges and Mr. Ortiz emphasized that we must do more to educate parents, teachers, and other community leaders on ways to intervene with young people before it is too late.
Local communities on the front lines in the fight against violent extremism must be empowered to stop the process of radicalization to violence. That is why the United States has helped establish organizations like the Strong Cities Network and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund and launched initiatives such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum's Initiative to Address the Lifecycle to Radicalization to Violence. Just this year, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development started implementing a $7.5 million effort to support the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund in Kenya.
In Djibouti, government officials are collaborating with young leaders to address the challenges of violent extremism in partnership with East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD. Under IGAD’s leadership, the new East Africa CVE Center of Excellence and Counter-Messaging Hub will provide a platform for East Africans to share best practices, collaborate on research on the localized drivers of violent extremism, and develop innovative counter-messaging efforts.
The U.S. will continue to assist it partners in East Africa to tackle terrorism and violent extremism and stands ready to lead in this fight.