The Upper East Regional Peace Council (UERPC) has observed that poor young people could be a major target for violent extremists’ recruitment.
The Upper East Regional Peace Council Chairman, Alhaji Sumaila Issaka, registered this observation when he delivered a welcome address on Monday at the opening ceremony of a three-day sensitisation programme dubbed “Sensitisation on Early Warning, Conflict Prevention and Preventing Violent Extremism for At-risk Youth in Bolgatanga”.
“The youths, you are a very, very serious group that they would want to use. They won’t like to use an old man like me. They want people like you [who can] run and do action. And there is this issue of poverty [facing the youths]. They will show you a new dollar [note and you get carried away]. These are the things that they will use.
“They say they are Islamists. They are not Islamists. For me, this is where I stand, because they are even killing Muslims. They are not only killing non-Muslims; they are wiping them out. And once you are in military attire and they get to you, they finish you. So, you the youths have to be very, very, very careful the kinds of friends you make and be observant,” the Chairman said.
He also observed that most of the conflict cases in the region were related to chieftaincy or land ownership, citing the cases in Bawku, Kandiga and Doba, Talensi, Natugnia and Mayoro among other areas. He warned that violent extremists could take advantage of the conflict situation in the affected areas by sneaking in to back the contenders with resources including firearms.
The programme, organised by the UERPC, is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the governments of The Netherlands and Sweden.
Seventy young people, drawn from a number of youth groups in the Upper East regional capital, are taking part in the programme. The groups include Upper East Youth for Peace, Upper East Youth Network, Atlantic Base, Zongo Youth Base, Motorking Base, Dreamals Youth and D-Line Youth. The rest are Areeba Youth Base Zongo, Tanzui Youth, Young Patriots, Zongo Youth Association and Presbyterian Youth for Peace among others.
The opening ceremony also saw the UERPC’s Upper East Regional Executive Secretary, Ali Anankpieng, highlight the objectives of the programme.
“One, it is to enhance the knowledge of at-risk youth in peacebuilding and early warning as preventive approaches to violent extremism. And it is to also strengthen trust and increase partnership between community members and security services.
“The main objective is to create awareness about the risks and vulnerabilities of Ghana to violent extremism and the roles of stakeholders in preventing it. If a country commits itself to building peace, that country is indirectly avoiding violent extremism,” he stated.
The Executive Secretary later took participants through one of the topics scheduled for treatment at the programme― “Understanding Conflict and Conflict Prevention”. The first day of the programme also saw the Executive Director of the Widows and Orphans Movement (WOM), Fati Abigail Abdulai, deal with “Gender Perspectives to Conflict Prevention”.
Experts from the West African Network for Peacebuilding Ghana (WANEP-Ghana) are also billed to appear all through the next two days and touch on other topics including Understanding Concepts of Violent Extremism and Prevention, An Overview of Violent Extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, Establishing Vulnerabilities, Early Warning Signs and Risks in Upper East to Violent Extremism. They are also expected to treat Community Stakeholders’ Role in Preventing Violent Extremism and in Early Warning and Response.
The UERPC expressed its gratitude to the sponsors for making the programme the fourth in a series that began with the Kassena-West District, the Bongo District and the Bawku West District.
Source: Daily Mail GH