A training workshop had been organized for community leaders, on terrorism, violent extremism, and prevention in the wake of a recent influx of Burkinabe nationals fleeing terrorist attacks on their villages into some border communities in the Upper West Region.
The workshop schooled participants on risk factors and the spillover of terrorist activities including pressure on social amenities such as basic public goods and services, water, health, and education.
It also dealt with issues on threats to livelihoods, the strain on community resilience and non-tolerance for diversity and minority groups as well as high suspicion and labeling of foreigners seeking refuge.
Mr. Awal K. Ahmed, the Executive Director of Rise Ghana, a Human Rights and Sustainable Development, non-government organization, which organized the forum, said Rise Ghana was to support social and community mobilization efforts to build community resilience to effectively mitigate the potential spillover effects of the Sahel terrorists’ activities.
He said Rise Ghana was to provide skills and knowledge to the participants to help deepen understanding and the prevention of violent extremism drivers, early detection and reporting of suspicious activities, and co-existence with immigrants.
Mr. Ahmed said for Ghana to enjoy sustainable peace, there was the need for inclusive co-existence and due recognition and respect shown to ethnic groupings with equal treatment and justice as prescribed by the 1992 Constitution.
“If we will stop terrorism, we must be inclusive and recognize all tribes with due respect as prescribed by Ghana’s Constitution. Give everybody the opportunity to express themselves for you to understand but don’t jump to conclusions because they are coming from a particular tribe and you stereotype them,” he said.
He said identity was very important saying, “If we want to build the resilience of our communities, then every child there must feel the warmth of the community. If they don’t feel the warmth, they will burn the community to feel the warmth.”
Mr. Ahmed cautioned the participants to avoid stereotyping and perceiving some tribes to be associated with deviant behaviors and actions and that certain different treatment denoted to them reduces their interest to volunteer relevant information to the security agencies.
He urged traditional and other community leaders to close gaps that were likely to create confusion and give opportunities to terrorists to manifest in the country saying, “Let us come together to fight the injustices together.”
Mr. Alhassan Hudi, a consultant, impressed upon traditional rulers and other community leaders, especially the participants at the workshop to go all out there and become ambassadors of peace in the communities by addressing all potential conflict situations amicably to safeguard peace.
He appealed to the people in the region to endeavor to co-exist peacefully with strangers and avoid abusing their rights while urging the participants to put the skills and knowledge they had acquired from the workshop into action in the communities to create awareness and vigilance.