- Your Excellency, Mohamed Hussein Ahmed, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Sudan and the IGAD Chair;
- Representative of the Republic of Djibouti;
- Your Excellency, Dear Brother Ambassador Engineer Mahboub Maalim, the immediate former Executive Secretary of IGAD and strategy development lead;
- Commander Abebe Muluneh and IGAD Security Sector Program team;
- Our Distinguished subject matter experts Dr. Whitney Grespin and
Mr. Gregory Robin;
- Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen;
- All Protocols Observed,
I will begin my remarks today by expressing my sincerest gratitude and that of the entire IGAD fraternity to the Government of Djibouti for graciously accepting to host this meeting.
I also specially thank the government of Denmark for their generous political, diplomatic and financial support towards the development of the Regional Strategy to Prevent, Counter and Respond to the Threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the IGAD Region.
Furthermore, my singular appreciation goes to a special member of the IGAD Security Sector program team and my predecessor, H.E Ambassador Engineer Mahboub whose extensive expertise on our region we continue to count on.
My brother Mahboub’s energetic engagement in this project is an example to us all on how to make retirement rewarding by giving back knowledge to the community.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Turning to the theme of this meeting, in the course of reviewing the data on IEDs in our region and around the world, I realized a number of insights which I will invite you to appreciate with me.
Overall Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have become an increasingly serious and significant threat in our region, especially as they have become the preferred weapon of choice for insurgent and terrorist organisations.
Between January 2020 to date, our region has suffered 295 IED incidents which have claimed the lives of almost 1,000 of our civilian brothers and sisters and inflicted life-threatening injuries on over 1,600 others.
The data showed that unsurprisingly, our sister Member State the Federal Republic of Somalia is the most affected by IED attacks, accounting for almost 80% of all incidents and carrying the unbearable burden of over half of all those injured and killed.
What is surprising however, is that between 2020 and 2021, Ethiopia recorded an increase in IED incidents of 815% from 34 to 311 or almost 1 IED attack for every day of the year.
Besides the direct devastation on human life, IEDs also directly affect the economy and livelihoods in the region when they destroy critical infrastructure such as water, sanitation and energy networks, roads, markets, schools, hospitals and social places.
Furthermore, they add to the humanitarian burden in our already overloaded region when they disrupt the relief and assistance operations conducted by our governments and international partners.
In a nutshell, IED attacks are a serious obstruction to the political, social, and economic development of our region.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Several factors contribute to the growth in IED attacks that we are experiencing in our region.
I am certain that the experts in this room are in a better position to elaborate, but allow me to note that we have to look inwards to first address those weaknesses within ourselves that make it easy for terrorist groups to manufacture, transport and deploy IEDs.
In particular, I see a big role played by the criminal networks that facilitate the financing and transport of illicit materials through our porous borders as well as endemic corruption, including the insufficient management of ordnance and ammunition stockpiles.
Groups such as Al Shabaab, Da’esh, and ADF are also reported to have infiltrated some sections of security services and recruited cadres who are being trained to manufacture and use IEDs.
Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is in response to these multiple threats that transcend national borders that this project has undertaken to formulate a comprehensive regional strategy to counter the threat posed by IEDs in a collaborative and coordinated manner.
This strategy-in-development acknowledges from the onset that IEDs are neither a national nor a regional problem but a global challenge that must be tackled in unison.
This is why this team led by Amb. Engineer Mahboub, is working in close collaboration and partnership with INTERPOL as well as coordinating with the African Union in order to come up with and implementing a holistic strategy that will deliver enduring and sustainable solutions to this highly dynamic problem.
Until now, the challenge of IEDs has been ineffectively addressed through short-term interventions that seek to treat the symptoms instead of curing the disease.
Previous efforts to combat IEDs have focused on training and equipping specialist counter-IED forces but this approach has proven to be costly, never-ending, and only marginally effective.
Regrettably, capacity building for strategic and operational effectiveness has been overlooked meaning that addressing the root- causes and enablers of IED proliferation has been ignored so far.
This strategy seeks to remedy that oversight through the prioritization of strategy development into capacity building which will stimulate more pro-active approaches that include forecasting and detection in addition to prevention.
This strategy framework also provides an opportunity to foster more predictability, greater transparency and measure accountability and effectiveness of counter-IED efforts in the region.
I am convinced that it will also act as a confidence-building measure that will appeal to our partners who are keen to extend technical and financial support to our interventions.
As I come to the conclusion of my remarks, I invite all participants to carefully review and work diligently towards finalizing this draft counter-IED strategy which will help to mitigate the negative impact of IEDs on our already-vulnerable communities and societies.
With these few remarks, I officially opened this 4th Meeting of the Technical Committee to develop a Regional Strategy to Prevent, Counter, and Respond to the Threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the IGAD Region.
I wish you all successful deliberations, God Bless all of us, God Bless Djibouti, God Bless IGAD.
Thank you very much.
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