Special anti-terrorism programme begins in Maldives

The government of the Maldives has begun a special anti-terrorism programme in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and with financial assistance from the European Union (EU).

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi highlighted that the threat of terrorism exists in all communities and the biggest challenge for the Maldives is the low number of officials working on anti-terrorism efforts and the lack of resources. She thanked the UNODC and the EU for their assistance in the efforts to eliminate terrorism and extremism in the Maldives. She further noted the actions of the security services which stopped an act of terrorism from being committed in Addu City.

Furthermore, Minister Mariya expressed concern that the Maldives is one of the countries with the highest rate of citizens who have joined the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) per capita in the world. She, however, said that positive results have been seen through the country’s anti-terrorism operations because of legal amendments and international assistance.

Also at the ceremony, Deputy Head of Delegation of the EU to the Maldives Lars Bredal said the 18-month programme is worth USD2 million and its purpose is to determine the level of extremism in the Maldives and the terrorism threat level. He said the programme also aims to find out the cause of the rise in extremism and what institutions can do to improve their anti-terrorism efforts.