Mrs. Ellen Nee-Whang, Chief Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD, has observed that nearly one-fifth of the total population of Africa lives in countries disrupted by conflicts, many of which are on-going and continue to hamper the continent's developmental aspirations.
She also noted that apart from post-independence wars, more than 20 African countries have experienced at least one period of civil strife since the early 1960s.
She lamented that the continent has had its undue share of internecine civil wars and pledged Ghana's readiness to continue to fight for peace among the various countries and their peoples.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a four-day Training Course on Peace-Keeping and Peace-Building for African Civilian Personnel in Accra on Monday, she lamented that the conflicts do not only threaten the very existence of the people, but also act as drawbacks to progress.
“By the year 2002, there were 12 active wars and armed conflicts in Africa during which inter-state and intra-state confrontations wrought considerable havoc and devastating consequences on the affected states.
These occurred at a time when our citizenry expected greater socio-economic returns from our nations after many years of independence and self-rule,” she said.
According to Mrs. Nee-Whang, the devastation caused to Somalia, Liberia and DR Congo as a result of wars, are so huge that those countries have virtually crippled their political legacies, stressing that developments in those areas could suffer drawbacks for decades to come.
“Indeed, not only do these conflicts threaten the survival of nation-states but some, like Somalia, have actually disintegrated.
The adverse spill-over effects of these conflicts on neighbouring states and the region as a whole remain monumental.
The repercussions include the spread of weaponry, refugee flow, and the exportation of banditry to those states,” she noted.
The Chief Director quoted a 2002 World Bank report which confirmed that colossal resources for development had to be diverted to conflict management.
She said $1billion was spent in Central Africa while more than $800 million was eaten up by conflicts in West Africa. These amounts do not include the over $500 million spent on UN Refugee Assistants for Central Africa alone.
She said the best guarantee to prevent conflicts on the continent is to address the root causes of the conflicts, saying some of them are fuelled by identity, structural inequality and unequal access to political power.
The four-day training programme was for 20 participants drawn from all over Africa. It was under the joint auspices of the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA) and the Training for Peace (TfP) Programme at the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), South Africa.
Established in 1995 and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TfP has trained approximately 7,000 people, mainly civilians for international peace-keeping and capacity-building initiatives in Africa.
Present at the opening ceremony were His Excellency, Rapulane Sydney Molekane, South African High Commissioner to Ghana; Professor Kofi Kumado, Director, LECIA, and Ms. Yvonne Kasumba, Senior Programme Officer, ACCORD.