Thirty-two security officials and civilians from 15 countries yesterday began training on humanitarian assistance at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
The two-week course named “Humanitarian Assistance and Women, Peace and Security in West Africa Core Course”, aims to strengthen capacities for effective humanitarian assistance in the sub-region.
The participants are from military, police, fire service and humanitarian professionals from Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Gambia, Liberia, Austria, United States, Burkina Faso, Benin and Gabon.
They would be taken through modules including humanitarian operation in fragile and conflict context; the use of armed escort; negotiation of humanitarian access and conflict sensibility; community engagement and coordinating measures between civilian, police and military actors.
They are the tenth batch of trainees of the course being run in partnership with the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence.
The Deputy Commandant of KAIPTC, Air Commodore George Arko-Dadzie, said for the past eight years, the Centre had sought to foster positive development in the sub-region through the training.
He said the course presented an opportunity to discuss some of the hurdles to peace and development West Africa faces and explore means and opportunities to meet and address the challenges.
He said more than 130 million people in the region live in extreme poverty with the population vulnerable to the effects of widespread food insecurity, recurrent natural disasters, climate change, the global economic crisis, socio-political instability and a pandemic like the COVID-19.
Air Commodore Arko-Dadzie said the humanitarian consequences of natural and human-made disasters were diverse, including large population movements, destruction of property and key socio-economic infrastructures.
He said epidemics, exacerbated food insecurity and the weakening of already fragile coping capacities of states and communities were also as a result of the disasters.
Through capacity building and awareness creation, he said, the course would contribute to several strategic objectives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and global action plans.
Air Commodore Arko-Dadzie said these included ECOWAS Humanitarian Policy and Action Plan, the ECOWAS Disaster Risk Reduction Gender Strategy and Action Plan 2020-2030, and the EU Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security
“In emergency situations, civilian, police and military actors find themselves working side by side and thus for effective disaster relief and assistance, the need for coordinated measures is indispensable,” he said.
A representative from the Austrian Ministry of Defence, Brigadier General Professor Alois Hirschmugl, said as of March last year, 247 participants from civil society organisations non-governmental organisations, and security had been trained in course or training of trainers.
He was upbeat that the course would continue to increase the knowledge and skills of its participants, providing comprehensive approaches to planning, coordination and implementation in the field of humanitarian assistance and enabling responders to be well prepared.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR