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Wreath laid at Schuman to remember victims of terrorism
Philippe Vansteenkiste, chair of V-Europe (left), and João Lázaro of Victim Support Europe laid a wreath at the national monument for victims of terrorism in Brussels on 21 August, the first annual International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.
The day was designated by the United Nations to stand in solidarity with the victims of terrorism worldwide. A commemoration was held in Brussels at the monument, established last year to recognise the victims of the March 2016 terrorist attack that killed 32 people in Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station. The monument is located at the Schuman round-a-bout, near the metro station.
Vansteenkiste lost his sister in the bombing and last year co-founded the victims’ support organisation V-Europe. The non-profit supports victims of terrorist attacks in Europe but particularly on Belgian soil, as well as Belgian victims around the world.
“Since the year 2000, more than 20,000 people in Europe have died or been injured by terrorist activity,” said Vansteenkiste at the ceremony on Tuesday. “That means that every year some 1,180 families are the victims of terrorism. We are here today to show our respect for all those families and also for the first responders – those who were suddenly confronted by horrific scenes, resembling a war zone.”
Also at the ceremony were the members of the 2016 bombings’ federal parliamentary investigative committee, including Patrick Dewael (Open Vld) and Meryame Kitir (SP.A).
In a video made for the UN, Vansteenkiste said that, when his sister died, “we felt extremely lonely. We couldn’t communicate with or find other victims so that we could share experiences”. That led to V-Europe. “When victims start communicating, they find that their situations are not so different. These are normal reactions they are having. In V-Europe, we all support each other. You can find hope again, understanding, the basic elements to rebuild your life.”
Photo: Benoit Doppagne/BELGA