The effects of climate change, which has been the underlying cause of the severe water and food scarcity in the region, have pushed hundreds of thousands to flee, creating “climate refugees”. These refugees are susceptible to becoming “slaves” or to join radical groups. Their vulnerability and lack of education enables easy indoctrination, or sometimes they see no other solution: jihadism becomes a job like any other. Those that return to the region, often from highly Islamic regions of Libya and Nigeria, bring back with them fundamentalist ideals, and change customs. Formerly matriarchal societies such as that of the Tuareg begin restricting the women to the point of cloistering them within their homes. They help spread radical ideals among youth that would otherwise not have access to this extreme form of islam, and encourage them to join more extreme movements. Others are tempted to join radical groups and/or the drug trade simply as a means to escape their dire poverty.
Governments have currently opted for a military approach to curb the spread of Jihadism in Africa through the creation of the G5 Sahel. Poverty reduction and education are also appropriate and effective preventative measure limiting and slowing the spread of radicalization and immigration. By creating economic opportunities at home, young men and women are no longer be tempted to migrate to other regions or countries where they are subject to becoming indoctrinated. Appropriately educated both in traditional schooling and in the Koran, they have the tools necessary to question and even fight radical idealism, and preserve their culture.
Providing a voice and opportunity to these extremely vulnerable populations, thereby decreasing the spread of radicalism and limiting immigration toward Europe is therefore not only an appropriate measure for ensuring stability in West Africa, but also an effective way to support stability in Europe.