Jihadists operating in the West African sub-region resort to crossing into Ghana with looted animals for sale, raising concerns about terrorist financing and security risks.
The stolen animals, mostly cattle, are found in local markets in Ghana’s northern region, with one of the most popular destinations being the cattle market in Navrongo, near the country’s border with Burkina Faso.
This was revealed in a report by dw.com.
“Some of the cattle here are stolen and brought to the market to be sold, but we won’t know that,” Kwesi Adumbila, a well-known cattle dealer in the market, told the DW reporter.
“Others even cross borders with cattle to sell in Ghana. Those who cross the borders have their agents, whom they meet in the bush to exchange them,” he added.
The number of commercial destinations for these stolen cattle is growing rapidly, according to Rev. Fr. Clement Aapengnuo, a representative of COGINTA, an EU-supported community-based peacebuilding NGO.
Prof. Aapengnuo highlighted the emergence of new livestock markets, including that of Banda Nkwanta, a town in central Ghana, close to the borders.
The lure of low selling prices attracts buyers to these stolen cattle, unaware that their purchase potentially funds terrorism. “By buying these cattle, they are financing terrorism,” the father warned. Aapengnuo.
According to a study by the French NGO Promediation, Ghana’s proximity to the Cascades region of Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire makes its northern regions an attractive cross-border zone of withdrawal and control for armed groups.
The study suggests that armed groups find refuge in Ghana and engage in activities related to weapons, drugs, consumer products and cattle rustling.
Ghana’s security forces have responded to the problem by establishing camps near its northern borders with Burkina Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast, in an effort to control potential fallout from terrorism. However, porous border controls make it difficult to control illicit animal movements into Ghana.
Awal Ahmed Kariam, a security analyst with RISE Ghana, highlighted the need for improved border security, pointing out that Ghana’s accommodating nature allows crime to thrive.
He said: “We have a culture that is very accommodating in nature to our people… Some of these people may be violent extremists; however, they are also locals who engage in cattle rustling.
The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime has recommended using assessments of cattle rustling as part of early warning stabilization operations, similar to other forms of organized crime. This approach would help identify future areas of conflict and where armed groups seek resources.
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