The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Danish Embassy in Kenya and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly organized the Breakfast Forum on Disengagement and Reintegration as side event at the African Regional High-level Conference on Counterterrorism and the Prevention of Violent Extremism on 11 July 2019. The forum sought to highlight field and practice-based models in disengagement and reintegration, and useful lessons on government-to-government cooperation, multi-agency coordination, crime prevention, civil society advocacy, and social cohesion and protection initiatives can be better leveraged for effect.
Ambassador Martin Kimani, Special Envoy for Countering Violent Extremism and NCTC Director moderated the Forum. Over 90 delegates were in attendance including Embassies of Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and the USA. In the opening session, Mr. Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies, clarified the importance of distinguishing migrants from terrorists, and shared examples from 25 years of IOM experience in reintegration in assisting governments particularly in Nigeria with former Boko Haram members, in Somalia for former Al Shabaab men and women during the transition, and the Lake Chad Basin for rehabilitation and reintegration. He also acknowledged the Government of Kenya’s key flagship programming on disengagement and reintegration. Mr. Henrik Larsen, Embassy of Denmark’s Charges d’Affaires shared the lessons from the Kenya and Denmark partnership on the Danish model on disengagement for former terrorist fighters which emphasized: equivalence of mandates (of partnering agencies of governments), the buy-in of senior management, trust and competence, the multistakeholder engagement based on whole of government/whole of society approach, and partnership towards institutionalization.
Mr Jack Ombaka, NCTC Head of Disengagement and Rehabilitation Department, explained the “NCTC’s Disengagement, Deradicalization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) model as anchored on UN Security Council Resolutions (2396 and 2178) and national strategies, and focused on individualized approach alongside risk assessments of the community.” He also cited some key lessons on training and language of the government and its partners, the mentorship for individuals assisted and their family or key significant others, information sharing among partners, and engagement of non-state actors as part of the response.
Mr. Ferdinand Paredes, IOM Kenya Acting Chief of Mission, discussed the Reintegration dimension through the Programme on Human Security and Stabilization (PHSS). He highlighted the partnership with the government (NCTC and counties), civil society with emphasis on the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC), and the comprehensive approach that addresses prevention/drying up the well of recruitment and countering violent extremism using the two-pronged approach of Information, Counselling and Referral Service (ICRS) such as social protection by supporting the individuals and social cohesion by increasing the absorption capacity of the receiving communities or areas of return”. Mr. Marcellino Ramkishun, IOM Regional Thematic Specialist for Immigration and Border Management, explained the Integrated Border Management lens, as part of the IOM comprehensive approach, and framed the issue as a crossborder concern which requires crossborder and international cooperation against transnational crimes. He intoned that “the terrorist and crime networks are taking advantage of the migration routes and the vulnerability of individuals and families in porous borders.” Mr. Tom Ndahiro, Advisor at the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center stressed the Rwanda lessons. He noted that the genocide against the Tutsis started in words, in writing circa 1962 based on a UN report. He underlined that understanding who is branded as enemy and the hate ideologies will be key in responding through phased approaches.
The plenary exchanges gave spaces to voices on how other governments can learn from the Kenya model (a request raised on potential exchange visit and replication in other areas), dealing with victims, not all former terrorist fighters have equal needs, that women can be combatants and a force on willing their children to be terrorist fighters, interfaith experiences in the Coast, a woman reintegration beneficiary shared the assistance in setting up a hair salon and she is now training two other young women to have other options in the Coast community.
Amb. Kimani summed up the session and reminded all that disengagement and reintegration are dangerous and risky work for both government and its partners from civil society to international groups and commended IOM for adapting and learning with Kenya.