UNDP, Japan team up to help curb the rise of violent extremism in Central Asia

March 14, 2018

Participants of a preventing violence extremism workshop in Kazakhstan discuss recommendations for policy makers. Photo: OSCE/Vera Djemelinskaia

Comprehensive regional initiative to cover Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan

Astana, 14 March 2018 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan have launched a $6,15 million regional project to help stop violent extremism among youth in Central Asia. The initiative will aim to address high unemployment and lack of involvement in local decision-making, which are both drivers of violent extremism, as a means of prevention.

“It’s a serious development issue. If we want to break the vicious cycle of violent extremism, we need to make sure that at-risk youth have access to jobs, engagement platforms, and support structures,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Norimasa Shimomura, announcing that the programme will cover Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

“To date, this is the most comprehensive initiative to prevent violent extremism in Central Asia. It touches on all opportunities for youth in the community, from professional training to being able to make decisions with local mayors,” said Norimasa Shimomura.

The region has seen a rise in violent extremism in recent years, and all four countries have introduced more stringent security measures. This initiative will draw on development approaches and expertise to address underlying issues, to individuals and broader communities becoming susceptible to engaging in violent extremism. It aims to contribute to a ‘virtuous cycle’ involving enhanced economic integration and a greater sense of belonging among at-risk youth.

The 30 months initiative will create local youth networks and facilitate their engagement with religious authorities, cooperatives and job agencies, self-help groups and municipalities, allowing them to discuss important issues. The programme will also include professional skills training and mentorship from entrepreneurs and companies.

The initiative will focus on the most vulnerable groups, including young men and women, labor migrant returnees and former prisoners in the districts where violent extremism is most prominent. It will also build a regional youth network involved in each country to help spread the word and learn from each other.

Ichiro Kawabata, the Ambassador of Japan to Kazakhstan, Yerzhan Ashikbayev, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan and Norimasa Shimomura, the UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan, launched the initiative in Kazakhstan.

For more information and media enquiries, please contact UNDP Communications Associate Dina Teltayeva: e-mail dina.teltayeva@undp.org or via tel. +7 7172 696 544 (2124)