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General News of Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Diplomatic missions asked to collaborate in galamsey fight

Heads of African Diplomatic Missions in Ghana have been called upon to collaborate effectively with the government to end the menace of illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, in the country.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, made a special appeal yesterday to missions whose nationals were involved in the illegality to help bring them to order, to enhance the diplomatic relations between the respective countries and Ghana.

Presenting the extent of destruction to the environment, vegetation, water bodies and land in a video presentation to the Heads of African Diplomatic Missions in Accra, Mr Amewu said the government was not against mining but was against the methodology being used, which was threatening the survival of natural resources in the country.

It was an interactive platform created by the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confer with the diplomats on how to strengthen and enhance relations with their respective countries.

“The government wants mining to be done in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner and we are determined to ensure that,” he said.

Join galamsey fight

Mr Amewu urged the diplomats to educate and sensitise their citizens to the laws of the country and ensure that they conducted their businesses in accordance with the laws.

He described the diplomats and their respective countries as key partners and stakeholders in Ghana’s development and urged them to join forces in the national fight against galamsey.

He said with regard to the destruction caused, the government was determined to leave no stone unturned in the national campaign to end galamsey now.

Mr Amewu said the road map to dealing with the illegal mining menace included a three-pronged approach identified by the government, comprising the use of dialogue and other cordial mechanisms, for which reason the topic was included in the diplomatic discourse.

Other components of the approach are enacting stiffer laws, leveraging technology and enforcing existing laws to tackle the menace.

He said he was optimistic that the approach, known as the Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP), would help to holistically tackle illegal mining and bring sanity into the sector.

The MMIP, being rolled out in partnership with the Minerals Commission of Ghana, is a five-year project that seeks to involve all Ghanaian stakeholders in the mining sector in an elaborate programme aimed at sanitising the sector.

Foreign Minister

In her opening remarks at the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said in keeping with Ghana’s Constitution, the ministry remained poised to initiate, formulate, conduct and manage Ghana’s foreign policy in accordance with the principles of international laws.

“We will continue to espouse our traditional foreign policy objectives of positive neutrality, good neighbourliness and maintenance of friendly relations with peace-loving states, with priority given to our immediate geographical neighbours,” she stated.

She said Ghana would, therefore, remain a committed member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), as well as the reforms of the global political order, particularly by the United Nations’ Security Council.

Background

In recent times, there has been intense public outcry over the devastating effects of galamsey, particularly on water bodies in mining communities.

The negative impact of galamsey on the country’s socio-economic development, human sustainability, food security and access to potable water has resulted in major key stakeholders calling for an end to the menace.

The media, on April 4, 2017, launched a nationwide campaign to bring an end to the illegality and have accordingly called for a multi-sectorial approach to address it.

Major stakeholders such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Christian Council of Ghana, Parliament and some government institutions have all pledged their support for the campaign.