UNDP and IOM to study socioeconomic factors for radicalisation in Central Asia

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Organization of Migration (IOM) signed an Agreement on Study of the socioeconomic factors leading to vulnerabilities to violent extremism among young people in the Central Asian region as a part of the partnership in supporting countries to?mainstream migration into local and national development strategies, including localized SDGs.

In the framework of Agreement, the IOM Central Asia will examine the socioeconomic risk factors contributing to vulnerabilities of young women and men in local communities. This initiative is part of the UNDPled regional project Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation for Prevention of Violent Extremism in Central Asia.

Despite some recent efforts by the research community, significant gaps remain in understanding the grounds and mechanisms that could create vulnerabilities to violent extremism among youth in Central Asia. Since 2018 UNDP hosted series of the Regional Dialogues in Central Asia which demonstrated that relatively little attention has been paid to the role of socioeconomic factors, affecting whole households, and in particular the most vulnerable categories of local residents, such as women or youth.

While lack of opportunities and youth unemployment have been commonly suggested as structural 'push' factors and major drivers of radicalisation and violent extremism, the evidence remains mixed, said Mr. Yakup Beris, the UNDP Resident Representative for Kazakhstan. Further investigation is needed to understand the crucial role of early, targeted intervention reducing socioeconomic vulnerabilities and improving sociocultural integration of groups at risk in lowering their longterm radicalisation potential, he added.

Following up on the focus of previous studies, attention will be paid to socioeconomically vulnerable young people (both male and female) and women, facing challenges in integration into the local communities due to a variety of factors. Impact of migration strategies on reintegration opportunities and needs for assistance will be of interest to the researchers. The study will be based on the fieldwork to be carried out in selected communities in three Central Asian countries, serving primarily as countries of origin of migrants or as a country of transit and destination.

IOM Central Asia has recognised the various challenges associated with obtaining valid data that could inform PVE programming and policy, responding to the calls from several Central Asian governments for research that would help address those gaps, said Mr. Dejan Keserovic, IOM Coordinator for Central Asia, Chief of Mission in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Two rounds of comprehensive assessments into the linkage between socioeconomic vulnerabilities and risk of emerging radicalisation were carried out by an IOM research team in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 20162017. It has been concluded that vulnerable groups of society with low socioeconomic status, such as young men, divorced and widowed women are frustrated with own position as well as alienation from local community, he noted.

This joint venture is expected to provide solid evidence of risks and factors leading to youth vulnerabilities to violent extremism in the region and serve as a trusted reference point for multiple partners, including national authorities for designing adequate and tailored policy responses.

The regional UNDP project Strengthening Community Resilience and Regional Cooperation for Prevention of Violent Extremism in Central Asia is funded by the Government of Japan at the amount of US$ 6.4 million. The initiative, spearheaded by UNDP in Kazakhstan, is jointly implemented with UNDP offices in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, with strategic support from UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub.

Source: UN Development Programme