UN Counter Terrorism Chief Hails Morocco’s Support to UNOCT & Africa’s Security Agencies

UN Counter Terrorism Chief Hails Morocco’s Support to UNOCT & Africa’s Security Agencies

Under-Secretary-General of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov has praised Morocco’s support to UNOCT, expressing gratitude to the North African Kingdom for hosting the 2nd High-Level Meeting of Heads of Counter-Terrorism & Security Agencies from Africa, “Marrakesh Platform”.

In his opening remarks of the three-day event taking place in Tangier, Mr. Voronkov stressed the importance of the Marrakech forum in strengthening multilateral cooperation in Africa and building a stronger and more cohesive regional response to terrorist threat.

Last June, UNOCT opened Rabat Program Office and Training Center for Counter Terrorism in Africa. “I am very proud to say that since its opening, the Rabat Office has already conducted important capacity-building activities together with our partners from Morocco,” said the UN official, citing in this regard the specialized training curriculum on counter terrorism investigations.

“I am happy to see the Marrakesh Platform evolving with a growing level of participation and welcome the opportunity to once again have an open discussion with national stakeholders about the strategies and approaches to reinforce regional cooperation on counter-terrorism issues,” added the Under Secretary General of UNOCT.

The meeting provides an opportunity to address common challenges to interagency cooperation, share good practices for intelligence-led strategic decision-making, and strengthen national intelligence-led approaches to counter- terrorism, said Mr. Voronkov.

Furthermore, UNOCT staff members from the Counterterrorism Investigations Program, Kidnap for Ransom Project, and the Global Fusion Cells Program now also operate out of Rabat, ensuring their close proximity to African Member States, and facilitating more tailored and effective delivery, some of which is reflected in a newly produced training catalogue that highlights UNOCT’s recent efforts in Africa which remains a priority, said the UN official.

According to the 2023 Global Terrorism Index report, the Sahel region is severely affected by terrorism, accounting for more terrorism deaths in 2022 than both South Asia and the Middle East & North Africa combined. Sub-Saharan Africa now accounts for sixty per cent of all terrorism deaths globally.
Addressing the gathering, Moroccan foreign minister Nasser Bourita said Africa is the only continent wherein ISIS and Al-Qaeda groups are active, noting that there are 19 armed separatist groups operating in 22 African countries.

“No State can effectively address alone terrorist threat,” said the minister, stressing the need for African countries to strengthen their cooperation and partnership to counter terrorism.

Morocco believes in multilateral actions in the fight against terrorism, affirmed Mr. Bourita, voicing the country’s readiness to help African countries and contribute to multilateral efforts in this field.

The Minister sounded the alarm against the danger of the nexus between the separatist and terrorist groups which continue to threaten national sovereignty of many countries, saying that terrorists are expanding their activities from the Sahel region toward coastal countries in West Africa.

“We cannot afford to overlook this threat,” said Mr. Bourita, calling for coordinated urgent action against extremist groups.

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