AFRICA/BENIN - Seminar on violent extremism and the proliferation of weapons in West Africa

Wednesday, 7 February 2024 weapons   bishops   youth   albinos killed  

Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) - "Prevention of violent extremism, radicalization and the proliferation of small arms in the Sahel and coastal countries of West Africa". These are the objectives of the training course launched on February 5 in Benin to improve awareness of the problem and the exchange of information between security personnel and civil society actors in the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons. The countries affected are Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The course was initiated by the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Center in collaboration with the government of Benin and with financial support from the Japanese government.
The insecurity that affects countries within the region, with no access to the Atlantic Ocean, such as Niger and Burkina Faso, is spreading to coastal countries, such as Benin. At the end of January, at the end of their Plenary Assembly, the Beninese bishops expressed their concern about the growing insecurity in the country "with the taking of hostages, kidnappings and human sacrifices".
The causes of this situation include not only external factors, such as pressure from terrorist groups from neighboring countries trying to extend their hold on Benin, but also - according to the bishops - social phenomena within the country. In particular, the bishops invite young people and all those attracted by the greed for easy money to abandon "definitively these paths of death to find the path of life" and launch "a vibrant appeal to all sons and daughters of our country so that they cultivate the meaning and love of a job well done, the main basis of all development. Not surprisingly, among the evils they list are human sacrifices, particularly those of albinos. A ritual practice, also found in other African countries, which aims to promote economic gains or electoral victories. Ancestral practices, linked to traditional African religions, but which today clash with modern technology since there are scam professionals on the Internet who practice human sacrifices to donate blood to a fetish, in order to better submit their prey in the virtual world. Finally, the bishops sound the alarm on a certain number of deviances and self-destructive behaviors that we increasingly observe among young people: alcohol and drug abuse, moral depravity and rowdiness, especially at night. “These scourges not only compromise the physical, psychological and moral well-being of our young people, but also dangerously call into question their future,” they warn. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/2/2024)