Nobel Peace Prize: Joint reaction of Ministers Reynders and De Croo

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders welcome the attribution of the Nobel peace prize to the Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and the Yazidi Nadia Murad, a victim of the cruelties of Daesh who has become the torchbearer of her community. Both Dr Mukwege and Nadia Murad, two leading figures with whom Belgium had the chance to work closely, dedicated their lives to the fight against sexual violences used as “weapons of war” in conflicts.

Dr Mukwege is “the man who mends women”. He established in 1999 the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some 50.000 victims of rape - often used as a weapon of war - have been treated. In 2011, Dr Mukwege received the King Baudouin African Development Prize. Belgium has been very engaged to support his action and make sure his security was safeguarded.

Nadia Murad, from the Yazidi minority in Irak, has herself been a victim of these horrors. Like thousands of girls and women of her community, the young woman was reduced to a sex slave by Daesh during three months in 2014 in Mossoul, before she managed to escape. Only a few months ago, she was in Brussels to defend the cause of her community during a conference organized by Minister Reynders on the protection of the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle- East.

“It’s a historic day for the international fight for women’s rights and against sexual violence as weapon of war. Over the last few years, I had the honour on a few occasions to speak with Dr Mukwege and Nadia Murad”, recalls Minister De Croo. “Their work has been a source of inspiration for me, which brought me to give an even more central role to women’s rights and to the fight against sexual violence in the framework of Belgium’s development cooperation”.

For Minister Reynders, who also met the laureates several times, “the recognition of these two icons of the fight against sexual violence is a strong message on the importance of this fight, which will also be one of the highest priorities of Belgium during its mandate at the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020.”