Sahel terrorism a threat to Ghana, tighten security up north – Ibn Chambas

The activities of terrorists in the Sahel region pose a security threat to Ghana especially as the country approaches the elections on December 7, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, has said.

He has, therefore, called on authorities in Ghana to beef up security at its borders especially those in the northern part of the country to prevent these extremists from accessing the country.

“We need to strengthen security at the borders to ensure that small arms used in conflict are not recycled here during the election period,” he said during the launch of the ‘Ballot without Bullet’ initiative by the Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons on Thursday, October 22.

“The northern axis is especially very important because of the situation that we find in the Sahel, the threats of violence by the extremist and terrorist groups so particular attention will need to be paid in our northern frontiers,” he added.

It is recalled that in July this year, Dr Ibn Chambas stated that Intercommunal violence and persistent attacks by extremists continue to undermine peace and security across West Africa.

He warned the Security Council in a 9 July video conference meeting as delegates called for sustained engagement with all partners to advance a holistic approach to peace.

He said that despite intense efforts by concerned countries, violent extremists continue to attack security forces and civilians, forcibly recruiting children into fighting in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

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Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2020/585), he described security conditions as “extremely volatile”.

In Burkina Faso alone, as of June, 921,000 people have been forced to flee, representing a 92 per cent rise over 2019 figures.

In Mali, nearly 240,000 people are internally displaced — 54 per cent of them women — while in Niger, 489,000 people were forced to flee, including Nigerian and Malian refugees.  In Nigeria, 7.7 million people will need emergency assistance in 2020.

He said that as national and multinational forces intensify their operations to counter the violence, communities have organized volunteer groups and self-defence militias.

Rights groups have raised concerns over reports of alleged abuses by these militias, as well as by security and defence forces.

“The growing linkages between terrorism, organized crime and intercommunal violence cannot be overemphasized”, he said.

“Terrorists continue to exploit latent ethnic animosities and the absence of the State in peripheral areas to advance their agenda.”

He urged the United Nations to remain committed to working with all partners, by building national and institutional capacity, improving community resilience and advocating for good governance, political inclusion, respect for human rights and adherence to the rule of law.

It must also support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 2020-2024 action plan to end terrorism and extend broad support for both the Regional Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience Strategy for Areas Affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin Region, and the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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