Kumasi, Aug 22, GNA – The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training
Center (KAIPTC) has organized a three-day workshop in Kumasi for
security agencies and other key stakeholders in the West African
The workshop was to be used as part of strategy to counter and prevent jihadism and other violent terrorist attacks in West Africa.
The Sub-Regional Inter-Agency Collaboration to Counter Extremist Threats to West Africa and Sahel workshop, also provided opportunity for the participants to interrogate the preparedness of security agencies to engage on issues of threat in order to mitigate their effects.
It was funded by the Australian government and participants were drawn from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Brigadier General Irvine Aryeetey, Deputy Commandant at KAIPTC, opening the session, said it had become imperative to strengthen cooperation and coordination among various security agencies in the sub-region as a core strategy to deal with threats of terrorism.
He said though there were different strategies adopted and being implemented by individual national governments to tackle the menace, “the persistent brazen attacks of these groups demonstrate that more actions need to be taken.”
Brig. Gen. Aryteetey said the West African sub-region had over the last few years been hotbed to a series of diverse human security threats, ranging from civil wars, ethnic and communal conflicts, piracy, political instability and agro-pastoral conflicts among others.
There had also been a steady rise in jihadist and violent extremist groups across West Africa and Sahel since 2001 and this had led to an estimated fivefold increase in fatalities.
Recent activities of groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Niger and other violent extremist groups in Mali and Burkina Faso have resulted in thousands of deaths, displacement and loss of property.
Brig. Gen Aryeetey expressed worry at how criminal gangs continued to challenge the authority of governments and the resilience of states across the region.
With links to international terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups, and sometimes with access to intelligence and quite sophisticated weapons, these violent extremist groups were proving to be a force to reckon with.
It was therefore important for joint and collaborative action by security agencies in the sub-region to adopt and implement a common strategy that would deal effectively with these threats.
Brig. Gen. Aryeetey said this was the surest way to counter terrorism and violent crimes which was becoming difficult for individual national security agencies to counter and bring peace to their people.
Mr Glen Askew, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian High Commission, indicated that while terrorist threat had been largely contained to countries in the Sahel, the potential ‘spill over’ of insecurity represented a challenge to the coastal West African states.
Kidnap and ransom and other ‘hit and run’ terrorist operations, conducted from relative safe havens in Mali and Burkina Faso, were likely to increase in coastal states in the short to medium term, he noted, adding that, Ghana was not immune to the threat.
Mr Askew said Ghana’s vulnerabilities included 181 known unapproved border crossing point, high levels of unemployment as well as existing religious, ethnic, and political tensions.
He pointed out that it required countries to coordinate at the strategic and operational levels in reacting effectively to threats.