IOM Ghana and partners address border security issues through community engagement in the Upper East region
Accra – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Centre for Migration Studies (CMS), University of Ghana Legon, with funding from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the Government of the United States of America, brought together stakeholders and community members to discuss and validate the findings of a study on security perception and vulnerability of border community members in Paga, Kulungugu, Namoo, Mongnori, Pulimakom and Pusiga in the Upper East region of Ghana.
A series of town hall meetings took place between 31 October and 5 November 2022 as part of the “Strengthening Border Security and Border Community Resilience in the Gulf of Guinea” and “Enhancing Community Resilience and Social Cohesion amongst Select Border Communities in Northern Ghana" projects. These projects aim to improve engagement between the State and the targeted border communities by reinforcing trust between border communities and officials, building community resilience and enhancing border security.
"IOM efforts are complementary to those of the Government of Ghana in protecting our borders and border communities from the influence of violent extremist organisations. Therefore, knowledge of the perception on security and vulnerability of community members is needed to design tailor-made interventions to foster community cohesion and border security,” said Akua Nyamekye Darko, Immigration and Border Management (IBM) Programme Assistant at IOM Ghana.
Participants at the meeting – representatives from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Service, Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana Army, Port Health, National Intelligence Bureau, Traditional Authorities, youth and women groups as well as religious leaders from the border communities – discussed and validated the findings of the study carried out by the Centre for Migration Studies, with the aim of building policy coherence in the area of border security management.
The traditional authorities, represented by the Assemblyman for Kulungugu, Seidu Issah, said that some terrorists come to Ghana to seek refuge, and that the security service should cooperate with community members to enable them to share vital information. He added that the livelihoods of the vulnerable in the community should be enhanced to discourage information being leaked to outsiders for money.
Supt. Maxwell Disurri, Bawku Police Commander, said it was “imperative for the police to be part of this workshop, since the police service is a key stakeholder in border security.” He reiterated the need for the community to help the security service maintain peace in the area.
Although community members see GIS officers in town, many people are not aware of GIS’ role. “It is my hope that after this meeting, the community would better understand the need to cooperate with the GIS to prevent people with extremist views from entering the country,” said C.S.I. Ebenezer Arhin of the Kulungugu Border Post.
The improvement of the relationship between border management officials and community members is crucial for building social cohesion and securing the borders. Together with the community, it was agreed that dialogue platforms, awareness raising activities and livelihood enhancement projects, are the needed interventions going forward. These activities will be implemented over the next 12 months in collaboration with STAR Ghana Foundation.
For more information, please contact Nnamdi Iwuora, Programme Manager, Immigration and Border Management (IBM), IOM Ghana, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +233 30 274 2930