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07.12.2005 General News

Minister bemoans cost of conflicts on devt

By GNA
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Elmina (C/R), Dec. 7, GNA - The Minister for the Interior, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, on Wednesday deplored the fact that the government had so far spent 72 billion cedis in efforts to secure peace in Yendi alone. An amount he said could have been used to provide facilities to improve socio-economic conditions in the country.
Mr Owusu-Ankomah queried, "Can you imagine the number of schools or hospitals this could have built or other development projects?" and regretted that there were also added social costs to such conflicts, which cannot be easily quantified, but which made life difficult for people in the affected areas.
He expressed these concerns when he opened a week's 'training workshop on conflict resolution' for a proposed national corps of mediators for the country, made up of regional representatives of the some security agencies, religious bodies and the various regional coordinating councils, at Elmina.
It is being organised by the ministry with support from the UNDP, which among others, geared towards strengthening the participants' facilitation and mediation skills and enhancing their understanding of human conflict behaviour in general.
The Minister stressed that, conflict prevention and resolution formed a "critical part" of the structure that was being developed by his ministry for the maintenance of peace in the country for accelerated development and said a Peace Building Support Unit, otherwise referred to as the Department of Peace, was in the process of being established by his ministry and would become fully operational by June next year. According to him, the Unit would be the nucleus around which a structure for the management of peace from the district, regional and national levels would be built, through the establishment of district and regional peace advisory committees to work with the district and regional security committees.
Mr Owusu-Ankomah explained that the proposed Peace Building Support Unit would enable and facilitate the development of mechanisms for cooperation among all the relevant stakeholders in peace building by promoting cooperative problem solving to conflicts.
"Additionally, the Unit will institutionalise the processes of response to conflicts to produce outcomes that lead to conflict transformation as well as social, political and reforms reconciliation", he stressed, adding that, the rationale behind this, was to be "proactive rather than reactive", to problems facing the country. He said National Peace Council would also be established to deliberate on issues of peace at the national level, while the Peace Building Support Unit coordinates activities of the district and regional support committees.
Mr Owusu-Ankomah noted that one critical element in the arrangements for the management of peace was the need for the nation to have people, who have the requisite skills, at both district and regional levels, for prompt response in conflict management.
"These persons will be asked to intervene and find ways and means to have the potential conflict situation diffused, as well as work with various parties in finding and addressing the underlying causes", he noted.
In this regard, he tasked the participants, who were the first to be trained for the mediation corps, to take the workshop seriously, stressing that, they would have to encourage persons in conflict to dialogue, and that, their inter- personal skills will be called into play when they start working.
The Peace and Governance Advisor at the UNDP, Mr Ozonnia Ojielo observed that although Ghana was not regarded as a conflict country, there was the need to ensure that issues that divide communities and had the potential of exploding into conflicts were resolved for the sustenance of peace in the country.
He commended efforts being made by government and the Ministry of the Interior in particular, towards this, and said the UNDP had the "responsibility" to support the government in creating a roadmap for the maintenance of peace.
Mr Ojielo said it was in line with this, that the UNDP was providing technical support and expertise for such training programmes and also urged the participants to help ensure the achievement of the desired objectives.
The workshop, is dealing with the topical issues of 'understanding conflict behaviour and understanding good process and empathy: the mediator's essential tool.


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