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Sierra Leone overtakes Ghana as most peaceful country in West Africa

Sierra Leone has overtaken Ghana as the most peaceful country in West Africa in the latest Global Peace Index published on June 28, 2023.

Ghana has also slipped as the second most peaceful country in Africa in the 2022 index to the 4th position this year.

Commenting on the latest index, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Peace Council (NPC) Rev Dr. Ernest Adu-Gyamfi said the development calls for more work as the decline was not too good for Ghana.

He was speaking at Prampram in the Greater Accra Region on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at a two-day national dialogue on improving civilian – security agency relations for the prevention of violent extremism in Ghana.

Conflict deaths at the highest level this century is causing world peacefulness to decline, the 17th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) from the international think-tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) stated.

The national dialogue was organised by the NPC and the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with funding from the Netherlands Embassy with the objective of strategically building consensus and trust to improve civilian-security agency relations towards preventing violent extremism in Ghana under a project named the Prevention of Violent Extremism Through Social Accountability (PoVETSA) project.

The dialogue was attended by security agencies including the Ghana Police Service, representatives of the various political parties.

The GPI covers 163 countries comprising 99.7 per cent of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, and measures the state of peace across three domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

Why Ghana dropped

Rev Dr. Adu-Gyamfi attributed the decline to some of the happenings in Ghana to threats such as armed robbery incidents, highway robberies as well as some attacks on journalists, political violence, and the land guard menace and other perceptions, which all go to inform the rating and compilation of the results.

He said as a country there was the need to do the best we can to avoid some of these happenings.

He stressed the need to enhance trust and confidence between the security agencies and the civilian population to prevent extremism in Ghana and to improve understanding and tolerance as the country prepared itself for the 2024 general elections.

Interventions

He noted that the Peace Council, since 2020 had contributed to the prevention of insurgent activities by undertaking programmes to build resilience against terrorism and violent extremism.

Rev Dr. Adu-Gyamfi said the Council has engaged over 100 student leaders across the country, trained over 400 youths in all the regions of Ghana and reached out to over 200 fisher folks as well as commercial drivers on ways to prevent the insurgents from getting a foothold in the country.

He, however noted that despite these interventions, the extremist threat was persistent adding that it has been established that even though operations under the Accra Initiative temporarily halted terror groups’ activities and movements, it was limited in duration and geographic scope.

“It is worth noting that protracted chieftaincy conflicts give us reasons to worry, because the insurgents are always lurking around to use vulnerable communities for their nefarious activities. Other unresolved conflicts, including intra and inter-party elections at all levels must be holistically dealt with so that they do not serve as motivation for violence and provide impetus for aggrieved individuals to use unlawful means to seek revenge.” He said

Rev Dr. Adu-Gyamfi said some of the political tensions and mis-trust have security implications and therefore called on all citizens to help the Council build strong bonds of resilience at all levels of our national endeavours to ward off the common enemy.

“The Peace Council believes building the required trust between our political parties and the Ghana Police Service is a sure way to build and sustain our collective resolve against the threat of violent extremist and terrorism and even more importantly improve tolerance ahead of the 2024 general elections,” he said.

Global Peace Index 2023

The 17th edition of the annual Global Peace Index (GPI), the world’s leading measure of peacefulness, reveals the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth consecutive year, with 84 countries recording an improvement and 79 a deterioration.

This demonstrates that the deteriorations were larger than the improvements, as the post-COVID rises of civil unrest and political instability remain high while regional and global conflicts accelerate.

Key results

  • Deaths from global conflict increased by 96% to 238,000.
  • New data shows higher numbers of conflict deaths in Ethiopia than Ukraine, eclipsing the previous global peak during the Syrian war.
  • Seventy-nine countries witnessed increased levels of conflict including Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Israel, and South Africa.
  • The global economic impact of violence increased by 17% or $1 trillion, to $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to 13% of global GDP.
  • A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would cause a drop in global economic output of $2.7 trillion, almost double the loss that occurred due to the 2008 global financial crisis.
  • Despite the conflict in Ukraine, 92 countries improved on military expenditure and 110 decreased their military personnel.
  • Conflicts are becoming more internationalised with 91 countries now involved in some form of external conflict, up from 58 in 2008.

The rise in conflicts

79 countries deteriorated in the Ongoing Conflict domain, with conflict related deaths increasing by 96% compared to the prior year. Conflict deaths are now at the highest level this century.

The Ethiopian conflict claimed the most lives in 2022 with new data finding that battlefield deaths were over 100,000, while disease and famine related deaths were conservatively estimated at over 200,000. This conflict has been largely hidden from the media because of domestic media restrictions and internet blackouts. This has coincided with US and UN aid organisations stopping food shipments because of corruption in the food supply chains.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Mali recorded the largest deterioration with conflict-related deaths increasing by 154%, while violence against civilians rose by 570%. Eswatini experienced the next largest drop in peacefulness in the region.

The Ukraine war has seen the total number of Ukrainians who were either refugees or internally displaced jump from 1.7% before the conflict, to over 30% and is likely to continue increasing. Recent data has found that up to 65% of men in Ukraine aged 20 to 24 years have fled the country or died in the conflict1 . The report estimates 83,000 deaths are related to the conflict so far.

In contrast to the devastating effects of the war on the Russian population, other internal factors have improved including the incarceration rate, a decrease in violent demonstrations, and the impact of terrorism. The homicide rate within Russia is now at its lowest level since the inception of the GPI in 2008. If not for the Ukraine conflict, Russia would have been one of the largest improvers in peace in this year’s Index.

The global number of refugees and internally displaced people continues to rise; there are now 15 countries with over 5% of their population displaced.

Regional Highlights

The largest regional improvements occurred in MENA and North America. North America’s improvement was driven by Canada, but the United States deteriorated slightly where homicide rates have risen to levels six times higher than Western Europe.

Since 2016 MENA has seen the largest improvements in peace globally, however it is still the least peaceful region. The epicentre of terrorism has shifted from the MENA region into sub-Saharan Africa, especially the Sahel.

Central America, the Caribbean and South America have recorded substantial deteriorations, falling mainly on measures of repression, violence, and conflict.

Coastal West Africa is at its most peaceful since reporting began in 2008, with countries in the region recording an average improvement of 5% in the past 14 years.

The coastal region between Morocco and Ghana recorded no deaths from terrorism in 2022, in contrast to the neighbouring countries in the Sahel.

Europe is still the most peaceful region in the world, despite military expenditure and Neighbouring Country Relations deteriorating because of the Ukraine war.

The region is still home to seven of the ten most peaceful countries, with the level of violent demonstrations, protests and riots remaining high. The other three most peaceful countries are in the Asia-Pacific region.

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