Morocco and the United Nations (UN) signed, Tuesday via videoconference, a headquarters Agreement for the establishment in Morocco of the Program Office for Counter-Terrorism and Training in Africa of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).
Signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Mr. Nasser Bourita, and the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, the center reflects the ambition to combine efforts to meet the challenges posed by the growing terrorist threat in Africa in recent years.
This office, the first of its kind in Africa, aims to “strengthen the capacity of member States through the development of national training programs in the fight against terrorism,” said Mr. Bourita, who was speaking on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.
Morocco, the Minister said, is committed to working with this new structure to create a dynamic portfolio of cutting-edge training that evolves and adapts to the mission “in perpetual change and increasingly difficult to prevent, detect and prosecute terrorist activities”.
To rise to this challenge, recommended Mr. Bourita, “our actions must be in perfect harmony with the needs of African States, complementary to the various initiatives launched by these countries, developed with the contribution of African States and shared among partners in a cooperative approach and solidarity”.
The creation of this center, the result of more than nine months of hard work, comes at a time when Africa is suffering from an “alarming” upsurge in terrorist acts during 2020, Mr. Bourita stressed.
These acts have increased by 31% since 2011, reaching 4,100 attacks in the first half of the current year, while the number of deaths due to terrorism jumped by 26% in one year (12,507 compared to 9,944 in the first six months of 2019).
In the Sahel, the scene of the most significant upsurge in violence, the acts of Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM) and Daesh have increased sevenfold since mid-2017, the Minister said.
In Lake Chad, the number of victims of the Boko Haram and Daesh terrorist attacks has nearly doubled since June 2017, from 506 to 964, Mr. Bourita said.
These figures, the Minister concluded, underscore that Africa needs more than ever “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 from New York of Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Omar Hilale.