Islamic State is trying to infiltrate a wave of African migration to Europe, says UN food official
Islamic State commanders fleeing Syria are conspiring with extremist groups in Africa to foment and infiltrate a new migration wave destined for Europe, the head of the UN World Food Programme has said.
David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, said Europe needed to wake up to the extremists’ strategy in the Sahel region, the band of norther Africa spanning the continent from east to west.
Those forced out of Syria were uniting with local terrorist groups to use a lack of food as both a recruitment tool and a vehicle to push millions of Africans towards Europe, he said.
Speaking during a visit to Brussels for a two-day Syria summit, Beasley said: “You are going to face a similar pattern of what took place years ago, except you are going to have more Isis and extremist groups infiltrating migration.
“What we are picking up is that they are partnering with the extremist groups like Boko Haram and al-Qaeda to divvy up territory and resources and to continue to infiltrate and destabilise in the hope of creating migration into Europe where they can infiltrate and cause chaos.
“My comment to the Europeans is that if you think you had a problem resulting from a nation of 20 million people like Syria because of destabilisation and conflict resulting in migration, wait until the greater Sahel region of 500 million people is further destabilised. And this is where the European Community and international community has got to wake up.”
A four-year campaign against Isis has destroyed much of the group’s so-called caliphate, confining it to a tract of land in the Euphrates valley near the border with Iraq and decimating the cities of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. But officials involved in the campaign say at least 2,200 fighters remain entrenched in the east of Syria.
Beasley, who supported Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign and was nominated by Trump for the World Food Programme role, said the White House and Capitol Hill were “stepping up” their funding of the agency’s work, with US$3 billion expected this year, compared with US$1.9billion in 2016, but there was huge hole in his budget.
The agency has had to reduce the provision of rations elsewhere in the world, including in North Korea where children and pregnant women are having to be prioritised. Beasley is to travel to Pyongyang in the next few weeks to formulate a strategy with Kim Jong-un’s regime.