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Small Arms Survey reports on violent extremism in southern Libya

The Small Arms Survey’s Security Assessment in North Africa (SANA) project released a report entitled ‘Perceptions, Vulnerabilities, and Prevention: Violent Extremism Threat Assessment in Selected Regions of the Southern Libyan Borderlands and North-Western Nigeria’ in collaboration with the United National Development Programme (UNDP).

The report looks at the expansion of violent extremist groups in the Sahel region and its borderlands, which includes Libya’s southern border. The report notes that Libya’s border seems to offer especially favourable conditions for violent extremist groups to expand, with many extremists heading south after the 2016 fall of the Islamic State in Sirte.

The report aims to understand the dynamics which contribute to these conditions, such as limited public services, weak political institutions, porous borders, military interventions, international stakeholder meddling, armed group presence and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The authors conducted 6,852 interviews with people in the Sahel borderlands region, using these quantitative surveys to assess what encourages people to take up extremist causes and catalyses violence in the region.

The report found that hardship and deprivation, discrimination and marginalisation, and disenfranchisement and lack of faith in the state contribute towards violence in the region, fuelling and/or exacerbating grievances that push individuals towards extremist groups. It offered a number of policy recommendations including that the UN should focus on enhancing community resilience through various programmes which design interventions into border communities, create economic opportunities for men and women, and invest in economic activities that help formalise cross-border trade with more market access beyond the arms trade.

Read the full report here.

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