The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday, May 27, 2021, launched a new project in Accra aimed at strengthening Ghana’s border security as well as the regional stability in the Gulf of Guinea.
In years gone by, border management agencies (BMAS) in West Africa, including those in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo, have faced and continue to face different challenges relating to border management, including the lack of adequate infrastructure and equipment at existing border posts, the porosity of borders, and the activities of trafficking and smuggling networks.
These, coupled with the emergent threat of violent extremism spreading from the Sahel and ongoing, public health emergencies of international concern, have raised concerns about the long-term border security and regional stability in the Gulf of Guinea.
It is in line with this that the IOM after several discussions with various stakeholders has come up with the latest project.
The project title “Strengthening Border Security and Border Community Resilience in the Gulf of Guinea” will be executed fully by the IOM for a period of one year with funding support from the German Federal Foreign Office.
The project will support the governments of Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo to improve regional border stability in the Gulf of Guinea by strengthening border management capacities and community resilience at selected border posts in the north of the target countries.
Speaking at the launch of the project at the Tang Palace today, IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana, Abibatou Wane stressed that her Organisation is looking at using the project to tackle the preventive aspect of future challenges that can disrupt security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“This initiative that we have launched this morning is indeed timely if I may say because of what is happening in the Sahel Region with regard to the regional context and dynamics with the deterioration of the security situation in the countries in the Sahel Region and this also is putting at risk the stability in the countries like Ghana and the other countries in the Gulf of Guinea,” she told journalists.
IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana, Abibatou WaneIOM Chief of Mission in Ghana, Abibatou Wane
Abibatou Wane continued, “That is why IOM who has been supporting the governments in strengthening border security is now using this regional approach to look at mostly the preventive aspect.”
The IOM Chief of Mission in emphasizing the importance of the project called for the full support and involvements of governments that have been selected.
Representing the German Embassy, Dirk Kattlun who is the Police Liaison Officer from the German Federal Police noted that the German Foreign Policy is full of enthusiasm to be involved in the project because it meets their target of promoting peace and security in the world.
According to him, there is no doubt the project in the hands of the IOM will be a success.
“I am absolutely convinced that the IOM has got the expertise, the necessary experts, and the network in the concerned region to achieve the best results while conducting this challenging project,” said Dirk Kattlun.
Dirk Kattlun from the German Embassy speaking at the launchDirk Kattlun from the German Embassy speaking at the launch
With the project set for a period of one year, the Police Liaison Officer from the German Federal Police wants it to go beyond that timeline to ensure continuous border security not only in Ghana but in the Gulf of Guinea.
Dirk Kattlun insists that strengthening border security and community resilience in the Gulf of Guinea is hopefully the next step to concentrate on international support with the capabilities of the border security agencies in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin
Tasked with launching the important project today, Comptroller-General of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Mr. Kwame Asuah Takyi remarked that now more than ever there is the need for cooperation among countries to enhance border security.
Assuring that his outfit will open up to share information with Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo in the IOM project, he called for all hands on deck for a collective approach to tackle security challenges at the borders.
“We now live in one global village. Knowing the trend in transnational crime and international crime, one country cannot manage that type of difficulty or security challenges alone. So it’s better we come together to assist other countries,” Mr. Kwame Asuah Takyi said.
Comptroller-General of the GIS Mr. Kwame Asuah Takyi speaking at the launchComptroller-General of the GIS Mr. Kwame Asuah Takyi speaking at the launch
Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General of the Ghana Immigration Service has assured citizens that they continue to stay focused and will not let their guard down as far as safeguarding the security of the country’s borders is concerned.
He said that since the closure of Ghana’s borders in March 2020, over 31,000 people that made efforts to illegally enter the country were intercepted and stopped.
Response/Intervention for the IOM project:
The interventions will include the renovation/ construction of five border posts (two in Ghana and one each in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo), including the installation of renewable energy sources, the provision of patrol equipment, and the construction of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities.
The Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), an IOM-developed border management information system (BMIS), will be installed in Benin, Ghana, and Togo to support the digital processing of traveler information, including to analyses traveler data, to verify traveler identity, and to be able to cross-reference suspected travelers against watch lists.
The intervention will also work on deepening the engagement between BMAS and border communities in all countries through conducting security perception surveys in border communities in order to develop a shared understanding between BMAS, community authorities, and community members on security and development challenges in the border communities and supporting them to jointly recommend solutions to surmount these challenges.
Another priority intervention will be the reinforcement of the capacities of BMAS on standard operating procedures (SOPS) for responding to public health emergencies of international concern.