Humanitarian NGOs ask Minister De Croo to sensitize UN Secretary-General Guterres

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo met with some humanitarian NGOs today. Besides the members of the consortium Famine 12-12, representatives of the Red Cross also took part in the meeting. They discussed the approach of the humanitarian crisis currently touching Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan, four countries threatened by famine. Minister De Croo promised to mobilize as soon as possible the first part of a humanitarian aid package which was promised in the context of the doubling of the donations given to Famine 12-12. Humanitarian organizations also urged Minister De Croo to sensitize UN Secretary-General Guterres to the safety of humanitarian workers and to humanitarian access to disaster areas.

During the meeting organized with humanitarian NGOs, Minister De Croo undertook to rapidly release the first part of humanitarian aid planned by the federal government for the Famine 12-12 action. This weekend, Minister De Croo announced the doubling of donations to Famine 12-12 by the federal government. "The peak of famine is expected to happen this summer. It is important to quickly mobilize additional funds on the ground. This is the only way to save lives. That's why I will unlock a first humanitarian package for Famine 12-12. I hope the federal government's decision to double the donations to Famine 12-12 will encourage citizens to donate too", said Alexander De Croo.

Belgium has already committed 60 million euros of emergency aid this year for specific interventions and emergency funds from the UN, the International Red Cross, the World Food Program and others active in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. In addition, 20 million urgent aid has already been provided for Syria, where humanitarian needs remain considerable.

Eight humanitarian workers killed

Next week in Brussels, Minister De Croo will raise with UN Secretary-General António Guterres the question of humanitarian access and security for humanitarian workers. Humanitarian organizations are particularly concerned about difficult humanitarian access to the disaster areas. On Saturday, in South Sudan, eight humanitarian workers lost their lives in an ambush, as they left Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to join Pibor in the north-east of the country. 

The death of these eight people has been the biggest loss of lives of humanitarian workers since the start of the civil war in late 2013. A total of 79 humanitarian workers have died in South Sudan in the last three years. Minister De Croo is committed to discuss next week, during his meeting with Secretary General Guterres, the safety of humanitarian workers and the access to people in distress. A UN mission is currently happening in South Sudan. It should be able to intervene more forcefully to allow the humanitarian assistance, which is part of the mandate given by the Security Council. 

Says Alexander De Croo : "It's important that humanitarian goods can be delivered rapidly and securely. If necessary, access has to be imposed. We cannot accept that humanitarian access is blocked by the parties in the conflict and that humanitarian workers are bombed knowingly. The United Nations have a role to play in this regard."

The Famine 12-12 campaign has been accelerating last weekend. It got plenty of attention and was aired by various media groups on radio and TV. The written press picked it up equally, notably when the federal government decided to double the people's donations and because of the raging war in Yemen, which is already going on for two years. The presence of several Belgian journalists in the worst hit region allows our citizens to better understand the needs and to decide to donate.