Gennez highlights humanitarian needs during a three-day visit to Ukraine

Belgian minister of development cooperation Caroline Gennez (Vooruit) arrived in Kyiv on Thursday for a three-day visit to Ukraine. As the second anniversary of the Russian invasion draws nearer, she wants to strengthen Belgian support for the country, especially on a humanitarian level.

During Gennez's visit, she will meet several Ukrainian officials and representatives of European bodies and the United Nations. She also plans to visit several sites and attend a commemoration ceremony as the Russia-Ukraine war nears its second anniversary.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the West has provided continued military support to Kyiv, even while military aid seems to have faltered in recent months. A new billion-dollar package has been blocked in the United States. In Europe, the member states have difficulty meeting the ammunition and weapon production levels that Ukraine needs.

Humanitarian aid

Humanitarian needs also remain high, and the Belgian government regularly sends medical and civilian resources to Ukraine. "After two years of war, it is more important than ever that we remain in solidarity with the Ukrainian people," Gennez said. "Weapons are essential, but it is equally important that Ukrainians behind the front, such as students, the elderly, children and mothers, find the courage to keep going. That they go to school, that they receive appropriate care, that they think about and work on their future. Only in this way can Ukraine continue to resist Russian aggression."

Funding needs

Following a surprise visit to Belgium from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last October, the government announced a fund of 1.7 billion euros intended to purchase military equipment, supply humanitarian aid and put towards the reconstruction of the country. The government feeds that fund with the money it receives from corporate tax from the hundreds of billions of euros in frozen Russian assets in Belgium, including at the Brussels finances and asset securities company Euroclear.

At the end of last year, the government released 185 million euros for civilian aid in Ukraine. The Belgian development agency Enabel will receive 150 million euros to put towards reconstruction, concentrating mainly on the region around Chernihiv, in the north of Ukraine. The city came under heavy fire from Russian troops at the beginning of the war.

According to estimates by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank, the European Commission and the United Nations, a total of 452.8 billion euros will be needed over the next ten years to rebuild Ukraine.

Belgian minister of development cooperation Caroline Gennez © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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