Preventing, containing violent extremism: 2m illegal arms in circulation

 More than two million small arms are currently in circu­lation in Ghana, says the Deputy Head of the Conflict Management Programme at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Train­ing Centre, Ms Afua Lamptey.

She explained that the level of small arms proliferation in the country was disturbing due to the ongoing terrorist threats in the West African region.

She disclosed this at a forum dubbed “Preventing and Contain­ing Violent Extremism” in Accra on Wednesday.

Organised by the National Commission for Civic Educa­tion (NCCE), the forum sought to discuss the rising conflicts in the northern part of Ghana and propose solutions on how to curb the violence.

She attributed Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) prolif­eration in the country to “local manufacturing, leakage from government stockpiles, cross bor­der smuggling, explosives from mining companies (IEDs).”

She revealed that the Ghana Police Service had since arrested some four individuals including two police officers for selling firearms and ammunition at Alajo in the Greater Accra Region.

Ms Lamptey added that the government needed to devise sustainable means to acquire all illegally obtained SALW currently in circulation in the country.

“This would provide the Government with the opportu­nity to regulate access to arms in the country, monitor their usage and retrieve them from persons who would want to use them to commit crimes,” she said.

Ms Lamptey in her recom­mendations on how to deal with SALW proliferation and stop vio­lent extremists from entering the country said there was a need to “Maintain a robust security pres­ence along the Northern borders of the country and engage joint security operations and patrols; ensure the engagement of Com­munity Resource Management Area (CREMA) mechanisms to identify and reinforce connectors among communities.”

“Strengthen the peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity capacities of peace guarantors such as tra­ditional authorities, and partner civil society organisations to for­mulate programmes that would encourage the use of nonviolent solutions in addressing conflicts in the communities,” she added.

She urged the government to provide sustainable solutions targeted at removing the youth from the radar of violent extrem­ist groups in the west African region.

The Executive Director for NCCE, Mrs Kathleen Addy, in her remarks hinted at a baseline survey being undertaken by the NCCE to identify the gaps in identifying threats in society and how to deal with them.

She added that the survey would reinforce existing policies and initiatives addressing violence and threats in the community.

“You must have a way of iden­tifying a threat, what you have to do next, who to contact, and how you will know you will be safe after contacting the appropriate authorities. We need to provide the people in the community with all this information,” she said.

Dr Baba Sayuti who spoke on the topic “confronting terrorism through institutional collabora­tion” underscored the need for institutional collaboration to prevent and counter violent ex­tremism in the county as national security was a shared responsi­bility.

Dr Sayuti explained that terror­ism and violent extremism had negative Economic, Socio-Cul­tural, Environmental and Political implications on society hence the need for all stakeholders to kick against it.

“The national counter-terror­ism effort will not achieve its ends without the support and participation of all stakeholders,” he explained.


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