It’s been a decade since Ella Kissi-Debrah died. But Rishi Sunak still drags his heels on clean air for all
(The Guardian, 15 Feb 2023) The PM sent ‘thoughts and hearts’ to the nine-year-old’s family, but his environment secretary refused to back clean air targets.
Ella Roberta Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was a remarkable child. Energetic, joyful, active – she loved playing sport, reading books and making music. But living close to the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south London, from the age of seven she began to develop a chest infection and persistent cough. A happy, healthy child was disabled by chronic asthma.
As her condition deteriorated, she suffered seizures and breathing problems, and was shifted from hospital to hospital. Ella died aged nine, in the early hours of 15 February 2013 – 10 years ago today.
After tireless campaigning from her mother Rosamund, including a second inquest into her death in 2020, Ella became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death on her death certificate in 2020.
When I raised Ella’s case at prime minister’s questions two weeks ago, Rishi Sunak offered “thoughts and hearts” to Ella’s family. But in the words of Rosamund herself, being thought of on this day is nice – “but it’s not going to change anything, is it?”