Increase in Terrorist Attacks Recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa, Affirms Global Terrorism Index Report
Wednesday August 23, 2023
Following a destructive 30-hour siege by Al Shabaab militias at the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia on August 21, 2022, media reports show the aftermath of the incident, highlighting the increasing threat posed by militia groups in Africa. This comes as the world observes the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, with a recent study revealing a 50 percent rise in deaths caused by these groups in Africa last year.
The Global Terrorism Index 2023 report indicates a greater lethality in terrorist attacks, with an average of 1.7 deaths per attack in 2022 compared to 1.3 deaths per attack in 2021.
The Sahel region in Sub-Saharan Africa now stands as the epicenter of terrorism, accounting for more deaths from terrorism in 2022 than South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa combined. Shockingly, the region has witnessed a staggering 2,000 percent increase in terrorism-related incidents over the past 15 years.
As the world comes together to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism under the theme of “Legacy: Finding Hope and Building a Peaceful Future,” survivors of terrorist attacks continue to live in fear, haunted by their traumatic experiences.
Lilian Munyiva, a Kenyan survivor of the 1998 Nairobi bomb blast that targeted the United States embassy, shares her harrowing ordeal. “I was at the building working with the teacher’s service commission on that day, and I was heavily pregnant. My baby was born three weeks after the bomb blast,” she reveals. Munyiva and her colleagues were unaware of the impending danger as they went about their daily routine. The first blast came as a shock, and she vividly recalls the pain and confusion. “Funny enough, I never heard the second blast, because I think I was just dead,” she adds.
Munyiva emphasizes that many survivors, herself included, still bear deep emotional scars, and some mothers gave birth to children with lasting health conditions. Sharing her story with fellow survivors helps provide closure. “We have never fully healed,” she admits. “In my community, we bury individuals within two weeks of their passing, and it hit me hard that this could have been my funeral. The pain is still raw. I believed I had healed until I realized my aversion to going downtown. Eventually, I had to resign from my job. I prefer places with fewer people. I detest loud voices,” she continues.
In recent months, Kenya has witnessed a surge in terror attacks by Al Shabaab, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 security personnel in the coastal and northeastern regions of the country. In response, Kithure Kindiki, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and Administration of the National Government, pledges to bolster patrols in areas affected by Al Shabaab and other similar groups.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledges the remarkable efforts of victims and survivors who are determined to effect positive change with their experiences. Vladimir Voronkov, the under secretary-general for the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism, announces the launch of the Legacy Project, a documentary gallery showcasing the stories of victims and survivors worldwide who have created meaningful legacies in the aftermath of terrorism. He urges everyone to support and amplify the legacy of victims and survivors by visiting the project gallery.
According to the Global Terrorism Index 2023 report, the Islamic State and its affiliates were the most deadly terrorist groups in the world in 2022, followed by Al Shabaab, the Balochistan Liberation Army, and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin.