European Union Project and Police Launch Early Warning System against Radicalization
June 09, 2019
IOM Uganda’s EU-funded slums project and the Uganda Police Force last Thursday launched an early warning system (EWS) against radicalization and extremism in Kampala.
Expected to deepen cooperation between slum communities and the Police, the EWS Installations were made possible by funding from the European Union.
This warning system is a result of the partnership between the Uganda Police and the IOM Uganda project titled “Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slum Population (SSCoS).
The SSCoS project aims to address the root causes of radicalization and violent extremism in slums of Kampala, particularly Bwaise, Kisenyi, Katwe and Kabalagala. It is wholly-financed by the European Union Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) from August 2016 through February 2020. IOM Uganda is the main implementing agency, working with partners like the Bwaise-based NGO AFFCAD and the Police.
The EWS was installed by engineers from MTN Uganda. It comprises computer servers and a toll-free telephone line as well as a power back-up system. Any city resident with radicalization concerns will be able to call 0800279650 free of charge, and speak to officers at Old Kampala, Kabalagala and Kawempe Police stations, who will take up the concerns.
Speaking at the launch at Kabalagala Police Station, the IOM Uganda acting Chief of Mission, Dr Mukunda Singh Basnet, said: “If you are in Kabalagala and you notice that certain community members are in danger of being radicalized, please call the toll-free number and alert the Police. And the Police will be able to work with local leaders to prevent those seeds of trouble from germinating into deadly violence or even terrorism.”
He appealed to the people of Kampala to embrace the Early Warning System so that the city can have peaceful, stable communities.
Commissioner of Police Hadijah Namutebi, who represented Assistant Inspector General of Police Asan Kasingye, echoed the same message, urging fellow officers and other partners to mobilize the community to take advantage of the system. She hailed the European Union project for working to address the reasons why youths in slums get lured into crime and violence.
“As one of the push factors is poverty, we are very happy that the project looks at strengthening the livelihood of the youths and other vulnerable people in slum areas,” said CP Namutebi, in charge of community policing. “The early warning system that has been set up here is meant to help us get proper information on groups of people who are facing radicalization, and we are happy that the Police has been taken through skills to [prevent] radicalization. Should we get any information, the offices who have been trained will be able to use it for [prevention and detection of crime]”
Namutebi appealed to the European Union to consider extending and expanding the project beyond next February and beyond Kampala, adding that “these problems are not only in Kabalagala, Katwe or Bwaise”.
Earlier, the deputy director for Counter Terrorism, Wilson Omoding, was treated to a guard of honour mounted by police officers. Onlookers, including regular visitors to the police station, marvelled as the officers slapped and flapped their rifles before marching away.
Omoding, Namutebi and a few other guests then entered the Early Warning Centre room, where an MTN engineer explained how the system works and demonstrated it with a launch-call to the toll-free number. When someone calls, he said, all six phones at the three centres ring, with the first officer to answer taking down the information.