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The Y.civic project of the “Europe for Citizens” programme has enabled the organisation of a day of solidarity action on 17 January. In collaboration with the Red Cross, Bonnevie and ESOPE, two socio-professional integration centers affiliated to UNESSA, will bring together nearly thirty trainees to help the victims of the bad weather that occurred in July 2021. Follow our young citizens on this day on Facebook and Instagram [Y.civic].

Photo by Son Tung Tran from www.pexels.com

What happened during July 2021 in Belgium?

During the month of July 2021, catastrophic and deadly bad weather hit Belgium. Floods hit part of Wallonia, the German-speaking Community and Flanders. The material damage was considerable and many people died or went missing. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that “the floods could be the most catastrophic our country has ever experienced.”[1]

Naturally, in the face of this disaster, a surge of local, national and European solidarity has manifested itself. First of all among the inhabitants, there was a lot of mutual aid and the hope of winning this battle against water[2]. The inhabitants directly put their hands in the dough in order to save what could be saved. Belgians mobilized, Facebook groups were created and emergency centers took care of “gathering the material deposited by some spared inhabitants”[3]. At the national level, emergency financial support plans have been released by the Walloon[4] and federal[5] governments.

EU aid: calling for European solidarity

At the European level, in July, Minister Annelies Verlinden first appealed to the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism. This mechanism makes it possible “to call on other Member States for specific support needs, in particular in terms of equipment and personnel. It also makes it possible to mobilise the European Civil Protection Support Team, through which Belgium can obtain additional equipment and rescue workers”[6]. Germany, France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Netherlands were present. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen paid tribute to the victims and pledged help from the EU. In October 2021, the government appealed to the European Union Solidarity Fund to release a maximum amount of €185 million[7]. The European Commission’s response is expected to arrive at the beginning of 2022.

Red Cross intervention and citizen mobilization

In addition to institutional support, Belgian civil society has organized itself and shown a lot of solidarity. The Belgian Red Cross has collected more than €40 million in donations[8] to help those affected. The NGO has established an action plan between October 2021 and April 2022. Its actions are varied: food aid, psychosocial support, various material aids as well as accommodation centers[9]. It is therefore in the continuity of a European project on citizen engagement that the young people of the PSI centres have decided to act and take part in the citizen solidarity in place in Verviers.

Project and Action Y.civic

Y.Civic aims to contribute to an understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to encourage the active citizenship of young people. This project  is developed within the framework of the “Europe for Citizens” Programme of the European Union. Started in 2020, it will end at the end of 2022. Throughout the project, 7 seminars and numerous activities will be organised across Europe.

As part of the first Y.civic transnational seminar on climate and the environment, young people expressed their desire to take action. After many discussions, a solidarity action towards the victims of the bad weather that occurred in the summer of 2021 was organized. A group of young trainees from the Bonnevie Training Centre in Brussels will meet with trainees from the ESOPE Training Centre to lend a hand to the Red Cross in Verviers, in the province of Liège. On January 17, these young citizens will bring support and comfort to the victims of the City of Verviers.

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