Sierra Leone Sounds Alarm on Illegal Mining, Calls for Regional Action

Freetown, Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has issued a stark warning about the devastating impacts of illegal mining in West Africa, urging regional leaders to take urgent collective action.

Addressing a high-level seminar on illegal mining hosted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Freetown, President Bio painted a grim picture of the activity’s consequences.

“Illegal mining poses a serious threat to our region’s development, stability, and security,” he declared, highlighting its far-reaching effects. “It fuels human rights abuses, environmental degradation, and economic crimes like tax evasion and corruption.”

Beyond immediate harms, President Bio emphasized the long-term damage inflicted by illegal mining. “This illegal activity undermines the responsible development of our mineral resources, jeopardizing long-term benefits for our people and their future generations,” he stressed.

His call to action resonated throughout the speech: “We must join forces to strengthen legal frameworks, enhance cross-border cooperation, and significantly curb illegal mining.”

Recognizing the root causes fueling the issue, President Bio advocated for empowering local communities. “By fostering inclusive growth and empowering local communities, we can create alternatives to illegal mining and promote sustainable development,” he explained.

He outlined a five-point plan for tackling the issue:

  1. Strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks
  2. Enhancing cross-border cooperation
  3. Addressing root causes like poverty and lack of alternative livelihoods
  4. Promoting sustainable mining practices
  5. Empowering local communities

Expressing optimism for the seminar’s outcome, President Bio said, “I am confident that this gathering will yield recommendations that accelerate the implementation of effective policies to safeguard our economies and the environment.”

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