A Regional Dialogue Session on Trending Conflict Issues has been held in Wa, the Upper West Regional capital.
The One-day event held in late February 2023 at the In-service Training Centre was under the auspices of the National Catholic Secretariat of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference with funding support from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) under its Sahel Peace Initiative project to raise awareness about violent conflicts and advocate for positive change.
In a welcome address by Fr. John Kuupiel, the Wa Diocesan Chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission, he urged all to share their stories as it is in sharing that they can make peace and appreciate one another.
In a keynote address delivered by Fr Clement Adjei, the Director, Governance, Justice and Peace Directorate (NCS), he bemoaned the rising trend of conflicts in different parts of the country. And that it provided a fertile ground for extremism. He therefore called for a speedy response to nib in the bud this unfolding phenomenon. Whilst commending the relative peace in the country, he noted that the challenges in the Sahel region meant that Ghana is not immune to terrorism, especially he noted the 5 northern regions: Upper West, Upper East, North-East, Savanna and Northern were at risk of violence.
Fr. Adjei further noted that it was important that immediate action be taken to prevent violent extremism. He urged leaders to fight corruption and Create opportunities for all Ghanaians. “We need to strengthen social cohesion and promote tolerance and promote diversity” Fr. Adjei stressed. He therefore called for an all-hands-on deck approach in promoting peace in Ghana with a call on traditional leaders, chiefs, religious leaders, among others to play their roles to ensure that there is peace and security in the Country.
The Dialogue sought to bring together relevant stakeholders to raise awareness about the phenomenon and also provide the platform to dialogue and advocate for positive change. To this end It was to deepen an understanding of the trending conflict issues and how they could serve as fertile grounds for violent extremists’ infiltration and understand the current gaps in addressing these trending conflict issues.
It brought together policy makers and implementers, academia, religious leaders, traditional leaders, youth group leaders, political parties, women group leaders, CSOs, the Justice and Peace Commission and individuals.
It needs to be recalled that Ghana is facing an imminent risk of violent extremism spill over from the Sahel. The borders with Burkina Faso, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire remain porous. The risk of violent extremist attacks spilling over from neighbouring countries is, therefore, high with parts of the country currently experiencing localized communal, chieftaincy, land and intra-religious conflicts. This has regularly escalated into more intense violent interactions. The possibility of these conflicts potentially being exploited by jihadists is thus very high.
There are already symptoms of increasing radicalisation within Ghana, precipitated by attempts of recruitment of Ghanaian youth into global terrorist networks such as Daesh and ISIS in Libya and Syria respectively.
It is therefore in response to these threats that the National Catholic Secretariat of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference is leading an effort, through The Sahel Peace Initiative, to raise awareness about these violent conflicts and advocate for positive change.
This Regional Dialogue Session on Trending Conflict Issues is one of several activities being implemented under the Sahel Peace Initiative in Ghana.