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Business News of Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Unemployment is the cause of conflicts in mining areas - Research

A study conducted by the Centre for African Elections Media Monitoring Index (CAEMMI) has identified unemployment as the strongest trigger of conflict across the extractive communities in the country.

The findings of the study were made public at a joint stakeholder forum organised by CAEMMI in Kumasi, with support from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and the Centre for Media Analysis (CMA). The event was organised under the theme “Conflict Prevention and Peace Building in Mining Communities: An assessment of conflicts risks in extractive communities in Ghana”.

The rising level of joblessness in the country gained a lot of attention during the post-election period, and still remains the most serious development challenge months after the 2012 elections. It was therefore no surprise when CAEMMI’s findings on the extractive communities in Ghana listed unemployment as the leading possible cause of conflict.

According to Dr. Messan Mawugbe, Executive Director, CAEMMI, unemployment is also one of the key factors linked to galamsey operations and continues to trigger conflicts in all the mining areas.

“In the Brong Ahafo Region, concerns of employment given by Newmont to mostly outsiders rather than indigenes of the community seem to be breeding tension. Although several demonstrations have gone on in the community, there are strong indications that unemployment issues could cause another conflict,’’ he said.

The project critically assessed and ascertained the possible communal conflict triggers in the Ghanaian mining sector; namely the Ashanti, Western, Northern, Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Upper West Regions.

Among the six major mining areas that the study covered, it specifically identified Tinga and Kue in the Bole-Bamboi district in the northern region as two areas in the northern part of the country with strong conflict linked to illegal mining, as a result of invasion by foreigners from neighboring African countries. The foreigners are noted to have mainly come from Senegal, Burkina-Faso and Guinea, and are deeply involved in the illegal mining business.

It also noted misunderstanding of who has the right to mine on mining concessions between the Azuma Resources (mining Company) and the youth of the region as a higher conflict trigger in Nadowli, Charikpong, Nanga, and Saang -- all in the Upper West Region.

He indicated that the study to map and identify conflict in mining areas ran from October 1st to 31st with a focus on profiling possible causes, actors and dynamics of conflict in the mining areas.

The findings of the study also tracked a higher degree of likely conflicts linked to ‘galamsey’ operations in Kenyasi Ahafo in the Brong Ahafo Region, and Obuasi, Abompekrom, Dokiwa among other communities in the Ashanti Region.

In the Mpohor Wassa environs of the Western Region, and Akyem and New Abirem in the Eastern Region, there was considerable evidence of conflicts linked to illegal mining, but unlike the Northern regions, the ratings were not strongly present.

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