01 February 2022, Kampala-Uganda: The IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) has today kicked-off a two-days consultation on the third Technical Committee Meeting (TCM) as part of the development for the regional strategy on Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED).
Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) are weapon of choice for terrorist organizations worldwide, posing a threat to security forces, civilians, critical infrastructure and local systems of governance. Africa has suffered gravely from the scourge of IED use, with more than 1,200 incidents recorded across the continent between June 2018 and May 2019 alone.
The African Union, Peace Support Operations Division and the Defense and Security Division, has embarked on a strategy development initiative to address the growing IED problem in Africa. A continental strategy will provide clear and cohesive guidance on Regional Economic Communities’ (REC) and Member States’ (MS) roles and responsibilities within their respective unique areas of operations.
The purpose of creating and implementing a strategy is to build enduring and sustainable solutions to a highly evolving problem that has been ineffectively addressed through short-term train and equip efforts, most of which are costly, endless, and marginally effective. Strategic and operational levels of capacity building efforts have been largely neglected. This shortfall has resulted in countless iterations of training thousands of specialists and general-purpose forces. The incorporation of strategy development into capacity building will provide greater transparency for donor nations and accountability for partner nations.
In this context, the IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) is conducting a threat assessment in the IGAD region that leads to development of a comprehensive sub-regional C-IED strategy for IGAD and its Member States.
The opening ceremony was officiated by Commander Abebe Muluneh Beyene, Director of IGAD SSP, and welcoming remarks from distinguished guests, namely: Assistant Inspector General of Police and Head of Counter Terrorism Abas Bykagaba, Representing Uganda, H.E. Mohamed Hussein Ahmed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sudan as Chairperson of IGAD, H.E. Ambassador Engineer Mahboub Maalim, CEO of the Project, Madam Lucy Daxbacher Ondoga, the IGAD Head of Mission in Uganda. In addition, subject matter expertise as part of the project present were Mr. Gregory Robin and Dr. Whitney Grespin.
In his opening remarks, Commander Abebe on behalf of the Executive Secretary of IGAD, H.E. Dr. Workeneh Gebeyehu, welcomed and thanked the high-level delegates from all IGAD Member States. He further appreciated the presence of the guest of honors as well as the Government of Uganda for hosting this important meeting. Commander Abebe, emphasized on the threat of IEDs in the region and the importance of developing a regional response in a form of strategy that will enhance cooperation as well as the capacity of Member States given that the Region is very vulnerable to such threats through the presence of various transnational terrorists.
All the guest of honors thanked IGAD and the Member States for their presence and expressed their warm welcome to this consultation meeting by emphasizing the threat of IEDs and the importance of cooperation and coordination, enhanced capacity building, the need for information sharing mechanisms in order to prevent IED attacks. They further highlighted that the IGAD region as a whole and the Member States like Uganda, Kenya and Somalia are experiencing various types of IED attacks causing serious human and other casualties. All emphasized that meetings like this will help in the efforts made by Member States and IGAD by bringing together high-level practitioners who are responsible in all aspects of countering and preventing IEDs including policy formulations and implementations.
An IED Technical Committee comprising of Focal Points from Member States was established as part of the development of the C-IED regional strategy that will formally endorse the final Road Map for strategy development. The Technical Committee has been scheduled to convene on a quarterly basis to review the progress of work and provide additional guidance to IGAD SSP as required. The first meeting took place on 06 July 2021 in Addis Ababa and the second took place virtually on 01 November 2021 due to COVID19. This third meeting has brought together 25 senior and high-level practitioners from the relevant law enforcement agencies as well as ministry of foreign affairs that have direct role in the prevention and countering of Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED).