Residents in border communities have been urged to increase their vigilance and deepen collaboration with other stakeholders to identify and respond to early potential threats of violent extremism.
The call was made at a peacebuilding, early warning and response training engagement with communities and youth groups in the Sissala East District organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Upper West Regional Peace Council.
The engagement, which is supported by the Governments of Sweden and the Netherlands, seeks to equip the stakeholders with the requisite knowledge and skills to identify and analyse early warning signs as well as general early warning information, and report them in real-time for timely response by the appropriate authorities.
Speaking at the opening of the engagement, the Municipal Chief Executive for Sisaala East Municipality, Hon. Karim Nanyua underscored the need for border communities to collaborate effectively with security agencies and report suspicious activities or persons that have the potential to undermine peace and security.
‘’The threat of violent extremism is real. Therefore, I am pleading with everyone, especially those living in border communities to be extra vigilant and report individuals with suspicious characters to the security agencies. We must learn how to speak about issues concerning threats when we see them’’, noted Hon. Karim.
He further encouraged young people to be active ambassadors of cohesion, peace and stability in their communities. He advised the youth not to allow themselves to be recruited as agents of violent extremism and terrorism to destabilize their own communities.
The engagement saw stakeholders taken through civic engagement and peacebuilding, gender dimensions to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and strategies to preventing violent extremists’ activities among others.
The stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the engagement and pledged their commitment to helping in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
‘’As a traditional leader, this engagement has been particularly insightful for me. I will take the lessons back home and educate my subjects so that we can all help the authorities to safeguard our communities from the threats of violent extremism and terrorism’’, noted Kuoro Kwabalugu Ali, Chief of Kwapun.
Hala-kuoro Hajaratu Limann I, the President of the Upper West Region Queen Mothers Association, also noted "this engagement has taught me the role women can play in peacebuilding and preventing violent extremism. So, I am going to convene my colleague queen mothers, and educate them so that we can all help in keeping our communities safe’’.
The engagement which adopted a ‘Whole of Community Approach’-targeting everyone in the community, in building and strengthening resilience against terrorism and violent extremism, brought together about 50 stakeholders. The participants were from traditional authorities, local government, youth groups, women groups, religious leaders, persons with disabilities, faith-based organizations, security services and civil society organizations within the Sissala East District.