The Ghana United Nations Students and Youth Association (GUNSA) says it has been devastated by reports of wanton destruction of natural resources and the environment by illegal small scale miners, otherwise known as Galamsey operators across the country.
The association said the seeming inaction by relevant state institutions is worrying and aggravating a disaster waiting to occur.
A statement issued in Accra by the Communications Directorate of the Association said GUNSA condemns the ongoing destructions and challenges government to take immediate steps to halt all such negative practices.
“As an association of students and the youth who are the future benefactors of a safe and sound environment, it is incumbent on all government agencies and institutions to take steps to protect the environment and its resources, hence our decision to join the ongoing campaign to ban Galamsey and all other illegal mining activities in the country”, the statement said.
GUNSA has however commended the Chief Justice for the decision to designate some courts as dedicated Courts for Galamsey trials.
The association says it is demanding strict adherence to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (Nairobi 1992) and the Framework Conventions on Climate Change (New York 1992), Kyoto 1997 and Paris 2015).
“We hereby also demand urgent compliance to the outcomes of the Stockholm UN Conference on Human Environment, the World Commission on Environment and Development as well as the World Summit on Sustainable Development,” it added.
Galamsey is a local artisanal gold mining in Ghana. Operators normally dig small working pits, tunnels or sluices by hand. Such lands are independent of licence gold mining companies. It is said to involve over a million Ghanaians and some 20,000 foreign counterparts, mostly Chinese.
Aside the occasional collapse of the pits resulting in deaths, the practice has left huge environmental effects on several communities where the practice takes place. For example, almost all water bodies have been contaminated, the ecology of the natural environment hampered and the lands themselves rendered useless.
According to GUNSA, Small Scale Mining has and will continue to be a major source of economic livelihood for persons living around legally licenced mining communities, mainly due to the continuous rise of the price of gold on the world market.
“it is therefore the duty of government to take the necessary steps to ensure sanity and sound environmental practices while such miners also offered an opportunity to survive”, the statement added.
The association expressed regret that successive governments have not been strategic in finding sustainable approach to end what has become a very complex menace.
It however hopeful that the current government will take immediate actions to stop the destruction of our forests, farm lands and natural water bodies.
GUNSA has also commended the newly formed partnership of media houses, churches, Occupy Ghana and other members of the civil society in the campaign against the Galamsey menace.
GUNSA was formed in 1963 as an association of youth and students desirous of living and promoting the ideals of the United Nations. It is recognised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has historically had the sector Minister as its Chief Patron.
It has produced a number of individuals occupying positions of authority and influence. Amongst them is the current Vice President, Dr Mahamoud Bawumia and several other public and private leaders in Ghana and abroad.