Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo have pledged to strengthen cooperation on border management under the coordination of ECOWAS and the support of the European Union (EU).
The four countries have committed to a joint declaration for the benefit and security of the citizens of the Economic Community of West African States sub-region.
This followed the regional conference of the SBS Ghana project held in Accra with high-level representatives and technical experts from the governments of the four countries to discuss issues related to security and cross-border cooperation.
Mr. Marco Bordignon, bureau chief of ICMPD Ghana and of the Strengthening Border Security (SBS) project office in Ghana, said in a copied statement to the Ghanaian news agency.
Home Secretary Ambrose Dery said: “Ghana recognizes ECOWAS protocols, which affect borders, as well as mutual benefits across shared border communities.
“We also strongly endorse and promote policies that reinforce the African Union principles relating to greater integration, improved cross-border trade and the legitimate and safe movement of people across borders. “
Mr Irchad Razaaly, Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana, also said: “The effective implementation of border management practices, which respect and support human rights and freedom of movement, contributes to more stable and dynamic societies and freedoms of citizens, including the right to live in a safe environment.
“We hope, with each of the participating States, to lay the foundations for a common strategic vision for regional cooperation in border security and to help increase the effectiveness of border management institutions.
“The EU is committed to upholding these rights by supporting better border management practices. “
The objective of the Regional Conference was to propose political solutions to strengthen coordination and cooperation at the operational level in cross-border areas.
The conference took on a dual format, with both high-level meetings at ministerial level and a technical workshop with border management agencies.
“We have no choice but to come together and work to address all the security, economic, social and other challenges related to the management of our common borders,” said Mr. Akobi Messan, Director General, Minister of Security and Civil Protection of Togo. .
In the final communiqué, the four countries recognized the importance of ensuring effective coordination of border management, including through joint training and awareness-raising activities, joint operations and patrols, harmonization of standard operating procedures , risk management and information sharing.
The final communiqué recommends maintaining the conference as an advisory forum for periodic meetings and creating a technical working group within a specific legal framework.
The institutionalization of informal collaborative frameworks along border areas was also identified as a priority for the four countries.
Mr. Alcide Djedje, Minister of African Integration of Côte d’Ivoire, said: “We must achieve perfect and frank cross-border collaboration and cooperation between the different agencies.
“And this through the involvement of non-institutional actors, the interconnection of information systems, the establishment of a platform for the exchange of information and intelligence, and above all capacity building.
The final communiqué also underlined the importance of including these interventions in the respective national budgets to ensure the quality and sustainability of service delivery.
Effective delineation and demarcation of borders was also highlighted as a priority by the signatories of the document.
“We are resolutely determined to make the border areas with your countries safe living and development spaces, and to do this, security remains the key word”, declared Clarisse Merindol Ouoba, Deputy Minister in charge of integration African, Burkina Faso.
Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said: “I hope this regional conference on border management and security will foster closer collaboration with counterparts in neighboring countries to improve and exchange data as well as share information between border control authorities.
“This would reduce irregular migration, smuggling of goods and people and reduce other cross-border crimes under the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol. “
The SBS Ghana project is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, implemented by the International Center for Migration Policy Development in collaboration with the Ghana Immigration Service.