Tomorrow, 31 December, Belgium's sixth mandate in the UN Security Council (VNVR) will come to an end. Two and a half years ago, our country had received the support of no less than 181 countries to sit at the table of the most important body for international peace and security for two years. During those two years, Belgium has been active on all the dossiers on the agenda of this body.
Belgium is supporting the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria with a contribution of 2 million euros, in response to the organization's 2020 call for contributions for the country. The ICRC's action is essential and its neutral and independent humanitarian approach, in accordance with the mandate given by the States, makes it a key player in the protection and assistance to the populations affected by the conflict in Syria.
No country in the world will be safe from COVID-19 as long as not all countries are safe. That is why the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir is making 4 million euros available for the COVAX initiative. COVAX is a global collaboration with governments and pharmaceutical companies to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are available and accessible to all countries worldwide.
On Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès held successive bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, H.E. Ara Aivazian, and her counterpart of Azerbaijan, H.E. Jeyhun Bayramov, on the occasion of their visit to Brussels and in the margins of the partnership dialogue with the European Union.
On Monday 14 December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès spoke at the 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, the founding text of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Due to the health situation, Minister Wilmès participated in this meeting, held in The Hague, virtually.
Today is the International Human Rights Day. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès and Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir underline that Belgium remains committed to the protection and promotion of all human rights for all.
Just as in 2019, Belgium supports the activities of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Iraq and Syria with a contribution of 2 million euros. Civilian casualties still occur daily in both countries. Children in particular run the risk of being injured or killed by mines or other explosive weapons. Explosive remnants of war contribute to the insecurity and difficult living conditions that drives Iraqis and Syrians to flee. The mine clearance efforts are part of Belgium's commitment to the stabilization of areas reclaimed from IS (Islamic State).