BOK Africa Concern, a Berekum-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and the Ghana Immigration Service(GIS) have partnered with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) to hold a meeting towards the implementation of inclusive preventive action on border security (SIPABS) project in the Bono and Bono East Regions.
The SIPABS initiative, under the Strengthening Border Security (SBS) Project of the ICMPD, is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF), has the objective of reducing and eliminating the occurrence of irregular migration and human trafficking in the two regions.
The programme also seeks to promote dialogue and active collaboration between communities, civil society and traditional authorities, and institutions especially border management agencies and local authorities).
Key actors that participated in the kick-off meeting include rural communities, traditional rulers, the Ghana Society of Physically Disabled, migrant associations/groups and hairdressers
Presenting the background and scope of the project, Mr. Benson Osei Savio Boateng, Executive Director, BOK Africa Concern, emphasised that the initiative specifically "promotes concerted action on border management with traditional authorities and local organisations".
He said it aims to increase knowledge in irregular migration and trafficking in persons and a pilot to promote economic empowerment, step up campaigns and stakeholders participation, interactions, and sharing information with border agents and to create save our soul (SOS) platforms and support mechanisms which enables them report back for urgent help.
Mr Osei Savio Boateng, thanked the ICMPD for selecting BOK Africa Concern as one of the seven CSOs to benefit from its grant facility.
He gave an assurance that the organization is determined and committed to ensuring the prudent use and management of resources allocated for the project, and asked for timely release of funds for the smooth execution of the project.
Giving an overview of the SBS project, Madam Eunice Adofo Boanya, Project Officer, ICMPD Ghana, indicated that the Centre focuses on capacity building, research, and promotes migration dialogue to enhance better migration policies.
She stated that ICMPD implements two projects in Ghana namely SBS and Strengthening Border and Migration Management(SMMIG), but however pointed out that the SBS project has two components including building the capacity of the GIS and strengthening its operations to improve service delivery and coordination at all levels, as well as working with neighbouring countries to improve border security management in Ghana.
"The component two entails giving grants to dedicated civil society organisations (CSO), academic and research/training institutions, and media institutions interested in migration-related topics, " she added.
The idea, the Project Officer, stressed is to get them to "submit innovative research and action proposals and best practices in the management of a range of issues bothering trafficking in humans, migrant smuggling, and border security related issues".
"It would create synergies, build relationships and trust between CSOs and border security agencies as well as local communities, traditional and religious authorities to see how best all these interest/identified groups can work together, " she stated.
Madam Adofo Boanya said further it will implement actions on cross-cutting issues such as anti-corruption and countering violent extremism along border communities.
Nana Akosua Afrakoma, Queen-mother of Wamfie and the leader of Wamfie Queenmothers Association, underscored the need to inculcate in the youth traditional and cultural values like respect among particularly the vulnerable groups like children.
She observed that such values were fast eroding, leading to a loss of identity and cultural heritage.
Nana Akosua Afrakoma blamed pastors for undermining the positive values and principles espoused in traditional belief system, stating the institution of chieftaincy and tradition has been demonised to look as though it is a worship of smaller gods, causing it to lose its respect".
She appealed to parents and guardians to educate their children and influence positive change, build their confidence to stay and work in a country that has all they need to succeed.