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RIPPLE EFFECT

Countering violent extremism key in post-Covid recovery

Our attention must be drawn to the vulnerable populations that have been exposed to untold suffering during this pandemic

In Summary

• The last pandemic was the Spanish flue between 1918-19 and most of today's leaders thought that a global pandemic will never befall us.

• Probably because our leaders thought we are past that stage of evolution, not so much commitment was directed towards containing another pandemic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, cases of social injustice have escalated fast in less than half a year. 

Majorly, the reason Covid-19 has caused a severe ripple effect in social injustices and human sufferings is because this generation has never experienced a pandemic.  

The last pandemic was the Spanish flue between 1918-19 and most of today's leaders thought that a global pandemic will never befall us.

 

Probably because our leaders thought we are past that stage of evolution, not so much commitment was directed towards containing another pandemic.

This can be referred to as leadership negligence because it has contributed to the mass spread of Covid-19, resulting in the disruption of human life and activities globally.

Our leaders must quickly learn from this failure to avoid any further human suffering and disruption of livelihoods in the coming days, particularly after Covid-19.

For instance, they must work with proven scientific evidence on human behaviour that suggests that people exposed to violence over a period are vulnerable to being recruited into violent and organised criminal groups.

With the above scientific narrative in mind, our attention must be drawn to the vulnerable populations that have been exposed to untold suffering during this pandemic.  

It is now clear that reported cases of gender-based violence have skyrocketed during this period because vulnerable women and girls have been exposed to longer settings with sexual predators due to lockdown and curfew restrictions.

Many people have also been left jobless, especially those in the service industry and sectors that involve close contact.

 

We cannot fail to mention those who have been infected with the virus and gone through excruciating pain during treatment, as well as those who have lost their loved ones to this disease.

Equally, there has been a sense of uncertainty from the false negative information through social media regarding the cause and cure of Covid-19. This false information has branded some races as responsible for the spread of the virus, resulting in stigma and violent treatment from other people. 

At the end of the day, people have been evicted from houses due to rent arrears or failed to feed their families due to pay cuts or loss of jobs, undergone physical and psychological pain due to this pandemic.

This makes vulnerable populations to recruitment into violent extremist organised groups and criminal gangs as a way of seeking solace, revenge, and false healing.

Leaders must thus look forward to prevent another resulting problem. 

As such, one important strategy is to creatively devise grassroots approaches within vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic as a way of countering the anticipated rise of violent extremism post-Covid.

Over to you leaders.

Malika is a social worker, counsellor and founder of One Percent Initiative in Kenya