ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Amujae Leader Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr warns of the impact of climate change on the Global South and migration on Channel4 News

Amujae Leader Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE called on nation-states to “step up” their commitments to fighting climate change—and follow through—during a recent interview on the UK’s Channel 4 News. 

The interview with Ms. Aki-Sawyerr, who is the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, came the day before the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned that the globe is nearing catastrophic levels of warming, the effects of which are already being seen around the world. 

Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said:

“The experience of this summer really been a wake-up call for the West…flash floods in London, fires in Turkey and Greece, we’ve been experiencing that in the Global South for a number of years. Climate change hit those who are emitting less sooner than those who are emitting more.” 

In Sierra Leone, climate change has had very real consequences, which Mayor Aki-Sawyerr experienced first-hand in 2017 when a Freetown mudslide killed over 1,000 people and destroyed over 3,000 homes. The mudslide was caused by three consecutive days of heavy rain and severe floods. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr said:

“There’s a big hole in the mountain still, and it will be there for a long time. But for me, it’s a constant reminder of the urgency of what we’re talking about. I know all over the world these reminders exist. There are many kids who can no longer go to school because of flooding in their communities.”

The interview also covered the effects of climate change on migration, which is placing extra pressure on cities: 

“If we continue to see this devastation, it’s without a doubt that we will continue to see people on the move because people will want to survive.”

Watch the full interview here.

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