Church strengthening communities’ resilience to fight violent extremism

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terrorism

A project to build the resilience of border communities against threats of terrorism and violence extremism in the Bunkpurugu-Nakpanduri District of the North East Region has begun.

Dubbed, “Strengthening border communities’ resilience for violence prevention”, the 10-month project would empower border community stakeholders to promote social cohesion and help prevent the infiltration of violent extremists and terrorists.

It is also targeted at using local knowledge and resources to identify and harness shared values and beliefs and to build local and community structures that would promote peaceful coexistence and inclusive development among diverse people and communities threatened by activities of violent extremists.

It is being implemented by the Good Governance, Justice and Peace Directorate of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocesan Development Organisation (NABOCADO), a faith-based organization, with funding from the European Union through the support of Coginta Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation.

At a stakeholder capacity-building workshop towards the implementation of the project, Mr Joseph Bangu, the Director, Good Governance, Justice and Peace Directorate, NOBOCADO, noted that the threats of terrorism in Ghana were real, considering happenings in the neighbouring countries.

He said apart from the political instability in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, countries in the Sahel region such as Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso had experienced terrorist attacks, thereby putting Ghana at risk.
He said the project which would be implemented in 15 border communities would build and strengthen district and community level structures to create an interface for a proactive response to issues of violent extremism.
Mr Bangu said the project would also ensure that stakeholders such as the religious and traditional authorities, local authorities and community members worked closely with the security agencies to prevent any spillover from the neighbouring countries.

“We started capacity building training for community peace agents, which cuts across, including women, natives and non-natives and the youth and we have also formed and trained school peace clubs in nine schools in the border communities to help in the campaign through durbars and drama among others.

Mr Bangu said Ghana’s borders were porous and there was a need for major stakeholders to work with the security agencies to ensure that suspected characters were reported for investigation and action.
“We want the chief, religious leaders and assembly members to understand the role of the security services and vice versa for them to work together for there to be social cohesion so that in the event of any reporting, the structures are laid out for the security to act.

“The essence is to prevent the activities, recruitment, radicalisation of people along these border communities,” he added.

Mr Joseph Louknaan, the District Chief Executive for the Bunkpurugu-Nakpanduri, noted that the district had 25 border communities and the insecurity in neighbouring countries put residents in those communities in danger.

He said the district over the years had experienced chieftaincy and land disputes, resulting in the imposition of a curfew for the past six years and noted that terrorists could take advantage of such a situation to recruit people to commit a crime.

The DCE said it was imperative for members of the communities, especially those living along the border, to be sensitised to resist the temptation to be recruited and report suspiciuos characters to security for investigations.

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