National Dialogue on Preventing and Containing Violent Extremism In The Northernmost Border Communities of Ghana
The Head of the EU delegation to Ghana, H.E Irchad Razaaly and entourage,
Deputy Minister for Local Government, Decentralization & Rural Development, Hon. Martin Adjei Mensah Korsah,
Representatives from USAID,
Representatives from the French Embassy to Ghana,
Representatives from the Canadian Embassy to Ghana,
Deputy Chairman, Operations, NCCE, Mr. Samuel Asare Akuamoa,
Friends of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I take this opportunity to welcome you very warmly to this somber event today. As you are all aware, last December, NCCE launched a major Project called Preventing and Containing Violence Extremism. This extremely important Project like other major projects we have undertaken in recent times, is in partnership with the European Union. Indeed, this is not the first EU funded project to be undertaken by the Commission, neither is this the first Project focused on the very serious threat of violent extremism we are facing as a country.
In 2021, NCCE, with support from the EU, carried out the NOPREVSEC Project which was also focused on extinguishing the threat of violent extremism in Ghana. That project which was extremely successful and impactful ended in May 2022. Subsequently, we were able to access funding through the emergency... window to somewhat continue the work of NOPREVSEC with this Project, Preventing and Containing Violent Extremism.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we cannot overemphasize the terrifying nature of the threat we are facing as a country. NCCE has been sounding alarm bells since 2021, and we are happy that today, all of us who are working on the same issue are gathered here for this Programme.
The PCVE Project is an eighteen-month-long intervention by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) with support from the European Union’s Rapid Response pillar.
The Project seeks to help prevent and contain violent extremism and terrorism, and promote social cohesion, peace and tolerance in the five (5) Northern Regions of Ghana; Upper West, Upper East, Savannah, North East and Northern Regions and three other border Regions, namely; Oti, Bono East and Bono. It will be implemented in 63 districts.
So why are we here? Well, we all recognize that a multidimensional approach to reducing threat of violent extremism gives us the best chance for success. Gathered here today are representatives of Organizations and agencies that are involved in different engagements and activities aimed at countering the threat we face not only as a nation but as part of West Africa and the global community of nations.
Indeed, the threat we face cannot be addressed in isolation as it forms part of a much bigger global network of dangerous non state actors determined to destabilize vulnerable States and seize control of natural resources as well as territories.
Even though in Ghana our primary concern has to do with the unraveling of Burkina Faso that makes our state increasingly vulnerable to terrorists’ threat, we cannot ignore the devastation in the Sahelian countries that have precipitated the current situation.
As we speak, wide swathes of territories in the Sahelian countries like Niger, Mali, Chad and more recently, Burkina Faso, etc. have been seized by a myriad of terrorist groups and mercenaries who are involved in criminal activities including
natural resource extraction,
gun running, human trafficking (including trafficking in children) for slavery,
prostitution and organ harvesting,
as well as drug dealing, among others.
These activities enrich and empower terrorists and mercenaries and equip them with resources to further destabilize fragile States. Unfortunately, there is a convergence of events both global and local that only exacerbate vulnerability of States.
On the global front, there are recent threats like Covid (leading to a global shut down and a reconfiguration of International Trade that left poor countries much poorer), the current war in Europe with the ensuing significant increase in global food prices, the growing intensity of climate change and the extreme weather that comes with it (which is no respecter of persons or countries).
Locally, in Ghana and similarly in many Countries, there is rising cost of living, very high unemployment particularly among restive young people who do not see light at the end of the tunnel, chieftaincy disputes and inter-ethnic conflict that have the potential to flare up and evolve into bigger conflicts. Unfortunately, this convergence of negatives is a perfect storm that increases the vulnerability of states and also increases susceptibility to infiltration and successful attacks.
NCCE EU Project
This is why our presence here today is so important. As Organizations, Institutions and Agencies involved in the work of preventing and containing violent extremism, it is important that we work together in synergistic ways that are complementary and lead to enhanced impact.
For us as NCCE, we launched PCVE in the dying embers of 2022 and immediately got to work. As with most projects we undertake, we set out to conduct a survey which provides baseline information that then informs our subsequent actions and interventions.
We have completed the field work part of the survey and are currently undertaking data analysis and putting the report together. The report will be completed and launched shortly.
Over the next 16 months, we will deploy activities and interventions within the geographical scope of the project and it is our hope that together with all of us gathered here today, we will succeed.
Focus on the north
There is one important issue that I will like to raise here, especially as our Partner, the European Union, ably represented here today by His Excellency Ambassador Irhard Razaaly and a Government of Ghana representation in the person of the Deputy Minister for Local Government, Decentralization & Rural Development are here.
It is true that the Northern and border Regions of Ghana are the most vulnerable when it comes to threat of violent extremism, but it is also very true that the rest of the country is not entirely exempt from the threat.
This is especially the case right now that a lot of attention is being paid to the north in the form of several donor funded projects running concurrently. We know of high risk and very vulnerable districts in the southern part of Ghana where the risk of violent extremism could be even higher. I hope that as part of the work we undertake here today, we begin to identify and plan for nationwide interventions as well.
What does life under terrorists look like?
Violent extremism is a nice and tidy expression that describes a state of insecurity and terror inflicted by people who want to impose their belief system on others by force. These people want to come into our country and impose their will on us; telling us what to believe and what to wear, what to eat and how to socialize with our neighbours. They will outlaw our way of life, and enforce their own draconian prescriptions to achieve religious, political or ideological goals.
They will torture and kill anyone who stands in their way, including children and women. They will indoctrinate and radicalize vulnerable young people and brainwash them into unleashing violence on those who oppose them.
Imagine losing your liberty and being restricted from moving about freely. Imagine a stranger with a gun deciding whom you are allowed to speak to. Imagine your relative or spouse being gunned down right in front of you or young girls being routinely raped as punishment for minor infractions. Imagine having to escape from your own home with nothing but the clothes you're wearing. Imagine being separated from your child in the chaos, never to see them again. Imagine the trauma that stays with you for the rest of your life because of the brutality you have witnessed.
I know I have painted a very grim picture but this will be our reality if we do not tackle this very real threat of terrorists on our doorstep.
The act of terrorism is a slap in the face of all humanity. Not only does it constitute an attack on innocent lives, our economies, and our infrastructure, but also symbolizes a complete onslaught against our common ideals and dignity of every person. No country has an exemption. For Ghana, we strongly believe that preventing and countering terrorism requires an enhanced global mobilization and a multidimensional approach.
It is therefore our hope that we all gathered here, with the resources available to us, will effectively work to achieve the aim of preventing and containing this menace of Preventing and Containing Violent Extremism.
Thank you all for coming, and you are most welcome to today's event.
God bless our homeland Ghana
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