Foreign

October 28, 2023

Ghana gets more EU aid for border security

Ghana

Ghana received a fleet of 100 armoured vehicles from the European Union on Saturday as part of increased aid for border security to coastal West African nations facing spill over from the Sahel region’s jihadist conflicts.

Ghana, along with Gulf of Guinea neighbours Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast, are increasingly at risk from violence in the Sahel especially after coups in Burkina Faso and Niger where the junta has demanded the withdrawal of French troops there.

After meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said 105 armoured vehicles delivered to Ghana were part of aid that would later include aerial surveillance equipment and electronic warfare systems.

“The spill over of insecurity from the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea countries is not a risk anymore. It is — sadly — a reality. A reality that our partners cannot — and should not — face alone,” he said.

Borrell said EU investment would also target job creation and services especially in northern Ghana where there are concerns jihadists seek to take advantage of ethnic tensions and economic dissatisfaction to recruit Ghanaian youth.

In a statement, the EU said the Ghana aid was part of a broader 616 million euros package to strengthen defence and security of the four coastal countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

While Ghana has not yet reported any jihadist attacks inside its territory, Benin’s military say they have faced around 20 incursions from across the border since 2021. Togo has also suffered attacks on its northern frontier.

– Troops out of Niger –

Earlier this year, Ghana sent 1,000 more troops and police to the northern area of Bawku to reinforce security after gunmen killed an immigration officer and wounded two others near the border with Burkina Faso.

Officials did not blame any group for the attack but Bawku, in Ghana’s Upper East region, faces a simmering ethnic chieftaincy dispute that often flares into violence.

Gunmen recently killed nine people when they opened fire on a bus in a northern Ghana district close to the border with Burkina Faso and Togo.

France has begun to withdraw its 1,500 troops from Niger after coup leaders there demanded they end their anti-jihadist deployment. That has left questions over France’s security strategy in Africa, but also about growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region.

“If they don’t want the French troops to be there then they’ll leave. I wonder who’s going to take their place, the Russian mercenaries?” Borrell said. “I can assure you that this time the security is not going to increase but decrease.”

Niger is battling two jihadist insurgencies — a spill over in its southeast from a long-running conflict in neighbouring Nigeria, and an offensive in the west by militants crossing from Mali and Burkina Faso.

In Burkina Faso, more than 17,000 people have died in attacks since 2015, more than 6,000 just since the start of this year, according to a count by an NGO monitor called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).