As we celebrate the 51st anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, we would like to seize this opportunity to stress the quality of the friendly and historical ties between our two countries and express our wish to further enhance them in the future.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès will represent Belgium today at the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council. She will speak on behalf of the Federal State and the federated entities. Belgium's human rights policy will be reviewed for the third time since 2011.
Belgium has decided to provide emergency aid to India, which is facing a particularly virulent wave of COVID-19. This aid consists of 9000 vials of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used in the treatment of COVID-19. These vials come from the strategic stock of the FPS Public Health. This emergency aid will leave in principle this Friday April 30.
Today, Belgium is sending 760,000 masks to Conakry via the emergency aid mechanism B-FAST. In doing so, our country is responding to the request for aid that Guinea submitted to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) as part of the fight against COVID-19. Like the rest of the world, Guinea has been affected by the pandemic. However, the health situation is further complicated by a measles epidemic, an epidemic of yellow fever and recently also some new Ebola infections which together put an enormous strain on the medical facilities.
From today onwards, Belgium will chair the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the area of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, the so-called “Killer Robots”. This group of experts, which meets within the framework of the Convention on certain conventional weapons in Geneva, aims to clarify the legal, technological and military issues raised by these new technologies, mainly with regard to respect for international humanitarian law.
Today, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announces the figures for Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the past year. The most important donors for international cooperation are represented in this Development Assistance Committee.
Five months after the start of the conflict in Tigray, more and more testimonies about extreme violence are coming forward. Therefore, Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir has decided to increase the funds for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by four million euros specifically for the reception and protection of victims.
On Thursday 1 April, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès spoke with her counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. The two ministers reviewed the bilateral and regional cooperation, including between the Benelux countries and the Baltic States, of which they each hold the Presidency. Finally, the two ministers discussed several international issues on the European agenda, notably Belarus, China and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 30, 2021, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès co-chaired with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken a virtual ministerial meeting of the International Coalition to defeat Daesh. This meeting in restricted format brings together the 32 States and international organizations most involved in its action.