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Security staff, CSOs end counter-terrorism project

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Dr Angela Lusigi - UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana
Dr Angela Lusigi - UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana

Some state and civil society actors from five West African countries have completed a capacity-building project on counter-terrorism in Accra.

The year-long project, which started in March 2021, was dubbed: “Strengthening response capacities of state and civil society actors in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism in coastal states in West Africa”.

It was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), with support from the Japanese government.

The beneficiary countries were Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin.

At the end of the project, the beneficiary actors were urged to effectively support their governments' efforts to fight terrorism threats.

At the closure of the project, Resident Representative of the UNDP in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi, said working with communities to build capacities for more effective early warning and response was an essential strategy in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

That, she said, included strengthening social cohesion and reducing the vulnerability of women and the youth.

"Active engagement and involvement of all segments of society is key, as is the provision of social service and livelihood opportunities to support people-oriented development," she said.

Dr Lusigi said activities of extremists and terrorists were spreading across the West African region and undermining human security as thousands had lost their lives, with millions displaced.

"These threats put the economic, social, political and environmental gains we have made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals at risk," said Dr Lusigi.

She said it had also been identified that governance and developmental deficits could be conducive to terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence.

She pointed out that socio-economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, perceived injustice, persistent social and spatial inequalities, negative religious ideologies, and mistrust between citizens and security agencies also played a role in driving terrorism and extremism.

The causes and effects of terrorism and violent extremism, she said, "do not respect national borders. We must, therefore, bring on board all stakeholders at the local, national, regional and continental level".

Japan support

The Ambassador of Japan to Ghana, Hisanobu Mochizuki, said Japan was committed to support the capacity improvement of countries with weak counter-terrorism capabilities because of the borderless threat of international terrorism and the significant impact it had on peace, security and prosperity.

"However, we cannot do it alone; we need strong partnerships to identify the root causes of these rising terror threats, and sensitise communities against allowing terrorists to use their communities as safe havens," he said.

The Deputy Commandant of KAIPTC, Air Commodore George Arko-Dadzie, said the project had contributed to strengthening the capacities and enhancing the knowledge of 81 state and civil society actors on preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism in West Africa.

He said it had been found that violent extremists were increasingly tapping into the organised crime economy using Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo as sources or transit zones of funding and logistics.