A baseline study on preventing and containing violent extremism in eight regions in the northern part of Ghana has found that more than seven out of every 10 people have said they will advise family members or close friends to desist from joining extremist groups.
The baseline study, however, found that a small number (11 respondents) were ready to encourage their friends or family members to engage in violent extremist activities.
It also observed that communities had a strong level of tolerance toward people of varied backgrounds and beliefs as high proportions of the primary respondents indicated a strong willingness to coexist and interact with people from different backgrounds and political affiliations.
The study, launched in Tamale, was conducted in March, this year by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) with funding support from the European Union with the overall goal of understanding the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of communities and at-risk groups to violent extremism and other forms of violence in the eight regions.
A total of 1,351 primary-level study participants were interviewed in the eight regions (Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Bono East and Oti) for the study while additional 67 key informant interviews were also conducted with senior-level officers of state and non-state institutions for the study.
The study showed that while there were no focal persons at the security agencies to spearhead activities related to violent extremism, institutional structures, and units such as the counter terrorism unit existed in institutions such as the National Investigations Bureau, Ghana Immigration Service, and the Ghana Armed Forces to deal with issues related to violent extremism and terrorism.
It found that education and sensitisation programmes were critical to creating awareness among community members on the happenings of violent extremism in neighbouring countries to detect signs of extremist activities in communities.
It also observed that eschewing tribal politics, political vigilantism, and discrimination among political parties was paramount to preventing violent extremism in the country.
It recommended that government should adequately resource state institutions particularly security agencies to fight against violent extremism.
It also recommended intensive and targeted education for the youth to prevent them from being radicalised or influencing others to join extremist groups.
It called on the government and the private sector to provide more employment avenues particularly for the youth, who formed a bulge of the country’s population to prevent them from being susceptible to the influence of extremist groups.
Madam Kathleen Addy, Chairperson of NCCE said “the findings from the study will inform the work that we do” encouraging all to apprise themselves with the study to help in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism in the country.
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