Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo discusses humanitarian crisis with Secretary-General António Guterres and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo today discussed the humanitarian crisis in Jemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien. They also discussed the situation in Syria. Tomorrow, the European Commission will organise in Brussels the international conference "Supporting the future of Syria and the region”.

Antonio Guterres pays his first official visit to Belgium since he became the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the beginning of this year. As a small country, Belgium attaches a great importance to international cooperation.

A powerful UN

Alexander De Croo: “We not only need a strong European Union, but also a powerful United Nations Organisation. Belgium believes in a multilateral approach. This is the best way to obtain durable, sustained and peaceful solutions. The UN must have a more important role in conflict prevention, and must be able to react in a flexible and efficient way to new situations. Belgium supports Secretary-General Guterres in his ambition to thoroughly reform the United Nations.”

During his meeting with Secretary-General Guterres, Alexander De Croo also condemned the chemical attack in Idlib in Syria. He expressed his support for an investigation, ordered by the UN Security Council, into the precise circumstances of the chemical attack.

Earlier today Alexander De Croo met with Stephen O’Brien, UN Emergency Relief coordinator, whom he thanked for his leadership. It was Under-Secretary-General O’Brien who last month rang the alarm bell on the humanitarian crises in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Representatives of the NGOs who launched the “Famine 1212” campaign 3 weeks ago als took part in the meeting.


Belgian humanitarian engagement

During his meeting with UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien Alexander De Croo reconfirmed the humanitarian engagement of the Belgian Government. “ The federal government will double all donations for the “Famine 1212” campaign. This commitment is entirely in line with the importance our country attaches to humanitarian assistance. Last year, Belgium spent 170 million € on humanitarian aid, a historically very high contribution which represents a rise of 600% compared to 10 years ago. I also decided to reserve this year as well 170 million € for humanitarian aid”.

In a statement after their meeting, Alexander De Croo and Stephen O’Brien jointly condemned the flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.  “We cannot tolerate that schools hospitals and humanitarian aid workers are being attacked.  These are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law. There can be no space for impunity. For that reason, Belgium supports independent investigations into the atrocities committed by the parties to the conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen”, says De Croo.