“A large part of our country has been hit by an unprecedented natural disaster. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and those who were close to them as well as with everybody who is in distress. The human toll is high” the king said.
“The floods caused devastation in our towns and villages. Many lost everything, the work of a lifetime swept away in hours. The queen and I will never forget meeting the people of Pepinster, Chaudfontaine, Rochefort and other severely hit municipalities”.
“In adversity the population is showing immense solidarity. From all corners of the country aid is being offered spontaneously and countless volunteers have set to work with dedication. We are very grateful to them and our European partners.”
The king went on to thank the authorities, who worked nonstop in the field with the support of the emergency services, the fire service and the army. “All means will be used for the reconstruction” the king said.
King Filip noted that tragedy had struck as Belgium was facing a long health crisis.
“Our country has weathered great trials over the past eighteen months. We have paid a high toll. Many of us experienced personal or professional tragedy. Our world has been turned upside down with all the ramifications for mental health, especially among the young. Many suffered loneliness and separation.”
“We have had to yield many certainties and sometimes take satisfaction in imperfect solutions, but we showed a tireless ability to adapt”.
The king singled out care workers for special thanks: “They have outshone themselves during the three waves of the pandemic. Now they face countless tasks that had to be postponed.”
King Filip added that our democracy had served us in good stead, but there is a realisation that people need to work together more at all levels.
“We have rediscovered the indispensable role of the state and public services. Their close cooperation with business and civil society is one of the keys of the successful tackling of the health crisis. I am thinking about the production and distribution of vaccines.”
King Filip concluded by saying that the efforts of splendid volunteers allow us to say that our vaccination programme is a success.
“To build our future we can call on knowledge, creativity, solidarity, generosity, empathy and courage. These are human characteristics we displayed in recent months. I am confident in our power of resilience. In these difficult times we survived by relying on what is essential: our humanity. It is invaluable and must be cherished. It will allow us to meet the challenges of society and the planet.”