The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the governments of Netherlands and Sweden is holding in Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, a three-day collaborative dialogue and sensitization on preventing violent extremism.
The sensitization programme, which brought together civil society organizations, media organizations, traditional leaders, political party representatives, the security services, tertiary students, and religious organization among others, was to promote a collaborative mechanism needed to prevent violent extremism.
The dialogue would among others touch on the violent extremism phenomenon and its sub-regional dynamics with an overview of it in West Africa and the Sahel Regions.
It would also focus on preliminary findings of a baseline survey conducted in 60 land border communities across Ghana, preventing violent extremism and radicalization in tertiary institutions, and exploring the effects of online hate speech on extremist violence in Ghana, as well as the gender dimension on violent extremism, the role of women and youth.
Dr Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, welcoming participants, said there was the need to bring onboard all stakeholders at the local, national, regional as well as continental levels to prevent violent extremism.
Through strengthening collaborative systems for international partners, civil society actors and the private sector to work together and expand their efforts to build community resilience.
Dr Lusigi commended the government of Ghana for the various efforts that had been put in place to deal with violent extremism, and said however that more collaboration and partnerships with communities, CSOs and the private sector was needed.
She said the UNDP’s Journey to Extremism in Africa Report identified some of the factors and enablers of violent extremist and terrorist activities included governance and developmental deficits stressing that; “governance and developmental deficits can be conducive to terrorism, extremism, and sectarian violence.”
She added that socio-economic factors like poverty, unemployment, perceived injustice, underserved communities, negative religious ideologies, mistrust between citizens and security agencies also played a significant role in violent extremism.
She noted that a robust response was therefore required, and noted that the UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) had urged member states to put in place efficient mechanisms to address developmental and governance gaps that led to violent extremism and terrorism.
“For instance, member states are required to prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups, to secure their territories, and protect their citizens,” she said.
She added that, “in accordance with domestic and international law, to intensify and accelerate the exchange of operational information regarding actions or movements of terrorists or terrorist networks, including foreign terrorist fighters.”
Dr Lusigi added that the 2015 United Nations Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism had also urged all states to pay closer attention to the underlying causes and drivers of violent extremism, after decades of overconcentration on militarized approaches.
Colonel Tim Ba-Taa-Banah, Director of National Counter Terrorism Fusion Centre at the Ministry of National Security, representing the sector minister called on participants to see their participation as a calling to contribute meaningfully to fashioning out strategies that would create a good security environment for all Ghanaians.
Col. Ba-Taa-Banah said while the security agencies were doing their best to prevent violent extremism activities in Ghana, the general public and other stakeholders could also compliment their effort by providing the needed information.
He said there was a rippling effect on socio-economic activities when violent extremism happened saying for instance the disturbances in neighbouring landlocked countries affected Ghana economically as they could not import more through Ghana’s ports, among others.