Editor's Note: This op-ed originally appeared on TIME.com and was written by Enough Project Founding Director John Prendergast.
On July 23rd, President Obama will be visiting what has been the deadliest neighborhood in the world over the past twenty years. He’ll be touching down in the two most stable countries in the region, Kenya and Ethiopia. Though beset with human rights issues of their own, they are swimming in a sea of extreme instability. The armies of Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, along with a veritable alphabet soup of rebel groups and criminal militias, are the most visible manifestations of Africa’s biggest challenge: the nexus between massive corruption and violent conflict.
The good news story that Africa has become in many parts of the continent will continue to be undermined by these hijacked states and their long-running, predatory civil wars. Without countering systematic looting by governments and rebel groups, peace and protection efforts stand little chance of success. A new framework must be developed to adapt, implement, and enforce the tools of financial crimes enforcement to give these countries back to the people.
In the region President Obama is visiting, which stretches from northeast to central Africa, more than nine million people have perished and fifteen million people have been rendered homeless over the past two decades. The region is rife with child soldiers, modern-day slavery, and war-related sexual and gender-based violence.
Photo credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas