Belgium organizes an event on the humanitarian impact of COVID-19 in conflict areas

On Thursday 23 September, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès will co-chair a high-level event with European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič on the impact of COVID-19 on children. This event is organised in the margins of the UN General Assembly, in cooperation with Niger and the NGO Save the Children.

For the fourth consecutive year, Belgium, in cooperation with the European Commission, is organising an event to draw international attention to the link between political, security and humanitarian aspects of crises. This year, the theme focuses on children, the forgotten victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 426 million children in conflict areas.

On this occasion, two high-level panels of experts will bring together Virginia Gamba, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer; as well as Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director UNICEF, Inger Ashing, CEO Save the Children and Léa Ouedraogo, CEO of the Burkina Faso NGO 'Alliance Technique d'Assistance au Développement'. The event will be concluded by Martin Griffiths, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator and Niger Foreign Minister, Massoudou Hassoumi. Participants will hear a number of testimonies from children and young people affected by COVID-19 and conflict.

Sophie Wilmès: "The wars that adults wage have a devastating effect on children. They carry the physical, mental and emotional consequences with them all their lives. Children are killed, maimed. They lose their parents, are kidnapped or serve as child soldiers. They also risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse or exploitation. Covid-19 is an aggravating factor in this. In addition to extra poverty and lack of opportunities, Covid measures often mean that children cannot attend school or have less access to health care. This suffering too often remains unseen. Our country will draw the attention of the international community to the need to eliminate the harmful effects of the pandemic on children in conflict areas. Schools must reopen quickly and safely, humanitarian access is essential."

The high-level event will call for child-centred solutions to be put at the heart of global policies and recovery strategies.