By Gilbert Azeem Tiroog, GNA
Paga (U/E), Dec.2, GNA-The National Peace Council in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Danish Embassy, has held a community sensitisation workshop on hate speech and negative counter narratives for at-risk youth in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality.
The two-day workshop, which brought together selected youth groups from the municipality aimed at equipping them with knowledge and effective responses to hate speech to become campaigners against hate speech in their communities.
It also focused on equipping them to contribute to early warning detection and prevention of hate speech and negative counter narratives in both social media and traditional media to contribute to preventing violent extremism.
The workshop formed part of an 18-month UNDP Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) project, dubbed, “PVE Atlantic Corridor Regional project 2023 to 2025”, with support from the Government of Denmark under its Peace and Stabilisation Fund (PSF), being implemented in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Cote d`Ivoire.
The project seeks to prevent and address the immediate localised drivers of radicalisation leading to violent extremism in target communities in these countries while providing support to strengthen the `infrastructure of peace`, namely mechanisms for early warnings and initial response at local levels.
Alhaji Sumaila Issaka, the Upper East Regional Chairman of the National Peace Council, noted that the emergence of new and diverse threats of violence has resulted in significant adverse effects on the social and economic progress of several nations.
He observed, therefore made it important to promote and disseminate alternative and counter-narrative messages, including hate speech promoting violence extremism in targeted locations to maintain peace and harmony to enhance development.
“It is important for us as a people to live together in harmony and not look down on others and demean them just for the mere fact that we see them differently in terms of their cultural background and l urge all of you to from now on, make attempts to foster unity,” he added.
Mr Ali Anankpieng, the Regional Executive Secretary of the National Peace Council, speaking on “Understanding and Responding to Conflict”, highlighted that when conflicts were not handled properly, they could escalate to become violence which had the tendency of causing instability.
He therefore urged the participants to be accommodating and find an amicable way of solving the differences in their respective communities even if it means compromising.
Madam Alice Bokuma, Early Warning and Gender Officer, West Africa Network for Peacebuiding (WANEP), Ghana, reiterated that the peace infrastructure was not limited to only the security services but the whole community, particularly the youth who were targets of the extremist to be sensitised to identify early warning signs and guard against radicalisation.
“WANEP Ghana is committed to building relations for peace and aside the fact that we have trained monitors at the community, district and regional level, we are still committed to partnering with other organisations to build peace in our communities,” she added.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Joseph Adongo, the Kassena-Nankana Municipal Chief Executive, expressed gratitude to the National Peace Council and all the stakeholders involved for spearheading the project aimed at fostering peace and countering violent extremism and added that the effort would go a long to contribute to maintaining peace in the area.
Ms Sheila Anao, a participant said, “the workshop has exposed us to a lot of things that we didn’t know and going forward it would help us prevent conflict and make appropriate reports when we see something.”