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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

ETHIOPIA: IGAD security chiefs discuss combating terror

ADDIS ABABA, 26 June 2003 (IRIN) - Top security chiefs from African countries were holding key talks on combating terrorism on Thursday aimed at stamping out potential attacks in the region.

Officials from seven countries, all members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are drawing up an action plan to counter the terror threat.

“The enemy is formidable in strength and we cannot afford to underestimate the danger,” said IGAD’s Sudanese Executive-Secretary Dr Attalla Bashir.

“The consequences of terrorism have been horrific in terms of human lives lost and the overall impact on the socio-economic development of the sub region,” he added.

Bashir blamed the porous borders between many countries, adding that the region was seen as a “hot spot” and hub for terrorism - providing a safe haven for would-be fanatics.

But he said the region itself had long been a target of terrorism, citing the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the attack on a tourist hotel in Mombasa last year.

The summit comes as Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held talks anti-terror talks with US general Tommy Franks who headed the forces that toppled Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

It is the first time that top officials of the intelligence, military, police and foreign affairs ministries of the member states of IGAD have met in order to counter the terror threat.

IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

The aim of the two-day German-sponsored conference is to foster greater communication among the states and try to “harmonise” laws aimed at combating terror.

They are also looking at bolstering legislation aimed at tackling money laundering, which is seen as a major weapon in the terrorists’ arsenal, and strengthening border controls.

Said Djinnit, the African Union’s commissioner for peace and security, urged that concrete steps to be taken in supporting the police and improving border controls and the judiciary.

He told the meeting that Africa had often borne the brunt of terror attacks.

“For many years, African people, in some African countries, had to live in an atmosphere of fear and insecurity,” Djinnit stated.

“Terrorism has destroyed infrastructure and properties, which have been built with great sacrifice,” he said. “It has traumatised generations of our people and undermined the social
fabric and the values of our communities.

“It has brought about suspicion, hatred and division within our societies,” added Djinnit whose own country Algeria has been victim of countless atrocities.

 

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict

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