Mayor Aki-Sawyerr highlights the role of cities in addressing migration challenges

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2022:

My participation at the United Nations International Migration Review Forum (“IMRF”) continued last week. Between Tuesday 17th May to Thursday 20th May I discussed with and presented to colleagues mayors, and representatives of national governments and international organizations in several fora.

• participated in the Mayors Migration Council (“MMC”) Leadership Board meeting alongside fellow board members Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan, Mayor Valerie Plante of Montreal and Mayor Atiqul Islam of Dhaka North

• participated in roundtable discussions with colleague MMC and UCLG mayors and Madame Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General and separately with HE Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly

• co-chaired with the Mayor of Milan the inaugural meeting of the Africa-Europe Mayors’ Dialogue that was attended by Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda of Kanifing, Mayor Elizabeth Sackey of Accra and Mayor Erias Lukwago of Kampala among others.

• represented the voice of mayors at the IMRF Policy Debate chaired by the IOM Director-General at which national government representatives and UN agencies presented the outcomes of the reviews of implementation of the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees

• spoke at a reception hosted by the Olof Skoog, EU Ambassador to the UN alongside the EU Commissioner For Home Affairs Madame Ylva Johansson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the Mayor of Milan

• spoke at the African Climate Mobility Initiative (“ACMI”) – climate driven migration trends for Freetown have been researched and modelled by the ACMI and it was fascinating to see the results of this work.

My presentations in all of these engagements included two key messages. Firstly, for cities to effectively address the challenges we face as a result of rural-urban migration or international migration, whether as cities of origin, of destination or of transit, we need effective decentralisation and access to finance at the local authority level.

Secondly, Local Action Equals National Success. To address the needs of our residents, to leave no one behind, there must be space for all levels of government to operate effectively and within a spirit of collaboration.

I am pleased that my previous participation in these fora along with MDU Team Lead Manja Kargbo, resulted in the Freetown Central Business District Regeneration Project with the City of Zurich (scheduled to start this year).

Also, the creation of the Global Cities Fund that has provided 40 waste management tricycles and livelihoods for 240 youth (including rural urban migrants) in Freetown; and the Freetown-Milan Fashion Industry collaboration which is linking Freetown fashion designers to the Milan fashion market, thus building skills and creating jobs. Watch this space for updates on this innovative fashion collaboration next month!

Whilst away, I am coordinating with my FCC teams in Freetown on a daily basis and I am pleased that extensive sanitation mopping-up work is ongoing in the East End after the recent heavy rains.


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