Burkina Faso refugees in Ghana …to be forewarned is forearmed

In the past few days, there have been media reports that at least 4,000 citizens of neighbouring Burkina Faso fleeing atrocities of armed men in some parts of the Upper East Region. The realities are that there have been severe terrorist attacks in some border communities in Burkina Faso which have forced these individuals mainly women and children to seek refuge in Ghana mainly in the Bawku West District.

“The refugees moved to Ghana after some homes in Zoago, Bugri and Zabre, farming communities in Burkina Faso, including a police station, were attacked by terrorists believed to be jihadists, leading to loss of lives.”

The situation is not only causing financial stress on the small economy of Bawku Importantly it has created fear and panic among residents in the border communities, including Wid­naba, Soogo, Sapeliga, Kansoogo and Googo in Bawku West District and also in Bansi in Bawku where most of the refugees are being hosted. More importantly, it has huge security implications not only for the people of the area but for the nation at large.

Mr Elisha Afuugu Abilla, the As­semblyman for the Widnaba Elec­toral Area, where more than 1,773 refugees are being hosted, is reported to have expressed fears about the presence of the refugees. Rightly so, who knows if all of them are genuine refugees and not part of the jihadists?

Conflict affects most of the regions in Burkina Faso, especially in border areas in the north and east of the country and intensifies in western and southern regions. 1.7 million people are reported to have been internally displaced due to violence, including almost 900,000 children as of September 2022, according to the govern­ment.

While Ghana has been spared for the moment, the attack on No­vember 9th 2021 in the town of Sanloaga in Togo, seems to con­firm that the north of the Gulf of Guinea countries is becoming the new front line in the fight against terrorism in West Africa.

The porous nature of the bor­ders and the existence of a cultural but also economic continuum with the Sahelian countries reinforces the fear of the installation of jihadist groups in the northern parts of Ghana and Togo.

In very recent times, the three top members of the hierarchy of governance have expressed grave concern regarding the safety and security of the country.

In a meeting with the president of the United State of Ameri­ca, Joe Biden, The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, lamented on the attempt by some countries to de­stabilise the peace of the country. He revealed that “Russian merce­naries are on our northern border. Burkina Faso and has now entered into an arrangement to go along with Mali in employing the Wagner forces there.”

President Akufo-Addo contin­ued “I believe a mine in southern Burkina has been allocated to them as a form of payment for their services. The Prime minister of Burkina Faso in the last 10 days has been in Moscow.”

In another development, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia was reported to have called for effective collaboration between civilians and security agencies to combat crime and flush out crimi­nal elements in the country.

He said for Ghanaians to main­tain a safe and peaceful commu­nity, it was imperative to report suspicious characters and activities in the communities to the security agencies for a prompt response.

The Vice President reempha­sized the need for citizens to be on high alert adding that “We must all be guided by the mantra: “See Something, Say Something,”

A day after, the Speaker of Par­liament Right Honourable Alban Bagbin urged the Ministers of De­fence and Interior to work hard to fortify the security of the nation. He expressed worries about the inadequacies in the allocation of budget to these ministries which according to him would hamper the effective deployment of secu­rity facilities for the country.

These are the topmost individ­uals from where they sit have the utmost privy to all security within the country. Their expressions and concerns, therefore, are considered legitimate and genuine. The urgent need for the government and all citizens to work together in ensur­ing a well safe and secure environ­ment has been more paramount than ever,

Not long ago, Ghana was put on the alert against the backdrop of the security intelligence on a possible imminent terrorist attack on the country.

This followed the widespread terrorist attacks in the subregion in recent times. Neighbouring Togo suffered an attack when assailants stormed a security post in the northern border village of Sanloa­ga in November last year.

During the same period, there was another terrorist attack in northern Benin resulting in several deaths and injuries. Between then and January this year, Benin has gone through a number of such horrible attacks, some of which could be described as the deadliest attacks with improvised explosive devices on a National Park struck. A soldier and eight park officers, including their French instructor, were killed and 12 others wound­ed.

Early this year, 11 soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire were killed with several others injured in multiple attacks in the first half of 2021. Other West African countries have had their fair share of real attacks or threats.

Terrorist groups associated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State of Libya and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) present a threat in the region. These groups have demonstrated capability and intent by mounting attacks against security forces and civilians in several countries, most recently in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Violent extremism has escalated into the West African sub-region. Government spokesperson on Security and Governance, Palgrave Boakye-Danquah, speaking on GTV on the matter, indicated that the activities of these terrorists are heading towards the south. This has been buttressed by the international community with the United Kingdom alerting its citi­zens on travels to these areas.

This is terrifying and must be of concern to all citizens and indeed residents of this country. “Under the surface lies a covert network that ensures terrorism continues in the region. Evidence is emerging that jihadists’ activities within and through coastal states are enabling them to fund, staff and run the logistics they need to thrive.”

Terrorist attacks in Ghana therefore cannot be ruled out, especially when there are sugges­tions from Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah that some time past that “intelligence reports suggest that some Gha­naians may have been involved in terrorist attacks in the Sahelian re­gion.” Attacks could be indiscrim­inate, including in places visited by foreigners.

From the President’s engage­ment with his USA counterpart, it can be concluded that there is a credible terrorist threat to all countries in the sub-region. Now we know. It is no longer presumption, and we can say to be forewarned is forearmed, basically under our circumstances will mean that if we know about something before it happens, then we can be prepared for it before disaster strikes.

Caution they say is not coward­ice, even the ants march armed Wise care keeps what it has gained; Launching of terrorist awareness campaign – is very important. Let us help to keep our safety and security intact.


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