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WACCE Warns of Violent Extremism Along Ethnic Lines

The West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) has warned that violent extremist groups could exploit the increasing ethnic tensions in Northern Ghana for terrorist violence. At a media briefing on Friday at the launch of its new project, Building Resilience Against Violent Extremism through Social Cohesion in Northern Ghana (BRAVE), the Executive Director of WACCE, Mutaru Mumuni Muqthar said that extremist groups have a huge exploitative capacity they take advantage of existing vulnerabilities to recruit or to engage in attacks. He explained that in order to avoid a direct spill-over onto Ghana, there is the need to work harder to eliminate existing vulnerabilities in Northern Ghana that can be exploited by extremist groups.


‘‘In our research report released last year in May 2022, entitled ‘Ghana’s Exposure to Violent Extremism’, we highlighted Ghana’s vulnerability to the threat, from both external and internal sources and called for urgent measures to address these vulnerabilities’’. Mr. Muqthar explained that as relations between local farming communities and Fulbes (Fulani) continue to deteriorate in the Sahel, terrorist groups have taken advantage of this vulnerability to recruit the marginalized Fulbe youth. Such vulnerable youth join the terrorist groups to fight in revenge against the local communities and the state.


The statement cited the Upper East, Northern and especially Savannah region as areas with widespread challenges of social cohesion along ethnic lines and expressed that fear this could be replicated in Ghana.

“In Ghana, there are already long standing conflicts between minority and majority ethnic groups. There are growing tensions and a deepening culture of marginalization along ethnic lines between Fulbes and local farming communities in the Northern, Upper East and Savannah regions. This is worsened by increasing violent and reprisal attacks  in Zakoli near Yendi, Bongo-Soe, Tamale, Bolga, Yapei among others involving the Fulbe populations. These things deepen the chances of violent extremism along ethnic lines’’.

The BRAVE project is aimed at building resilience against violent extremism by engaging in activities that deepen social cohesion along ethnic lines in Northern Ghana targeting a total of 380 participants; involving 230 workshop participants 150 dialogue participants. It will involve sensitization, capacity building workshops and dialogue sessions to be held in Karaga (Northern Region), Bolgatanga (Upper East Region) and Bole (Savannah Region). The project will provide agency for minority groups to participate actively in contributing to social cohesion. Mr. Muqthar emphasized that the BRAVE project will significantly feature Fulbe and other youth groups who have been traditionally ignored in such interventions.

 

This project is being undertaken with the support of the US Embassy under the US Strategy for Preventing Conflict and Promoting Stability (SPCPS). In the last 5 years, the US embassy has worked with WACCE in building resilience against violent extremism in Ghana, and has led to building the capacity of more than 8,800 youth and local actors in vulnerable communities throughout Ghana

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