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'We will overcome our difficulties together': King Philippe reflects on Covid and climate crisis in festive message
Teachers, healthcare workers, scientists and those who have suffered from Covid were among those honoured by Belgium's King Philippe in his traditional televised end-of-year message.
Addressing the nation on Christmas Eve, the monarch reflected on a second year of the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and this summer's deadly floods in southern Belgium.
"We all hoped that at the end of the year, we would have brought the pandemic that is hitting us so hard under control," the king said. "Unfortunately, this is not yet the case.
"Faced with this never-ending crisis, we can experience impatience, discouragement, sometimes even exasperation. These feelings are understandable. But they should not prevent us from seeing all that has been achieved for almost two years."
King Philippe praised "the daily efforts of each and every one of you" and said there was good reason to stay optimistic. "Science is getting better at understanding the virus," he said. "The work of researchers is bearing fruit. Today, we are better equipped to fight Covid than a year ago, thanks in particular to vaccines."
But he added: "There is still a long way to go." He praised the "exceptional commitment" of healthcare workers on the coronavirus front line and the work of teachers who "find the strength and energy" to do their jobs.
The king turned to the climate emergency. "This summer our country has felt the consequences of climate change hard," he told viewers. "The floods, on an unprecedented scale, encourage us to act, each and every one at our level."
The victims of this summer's floods "struggle to overcome their difficulties, day after day, which are still very present," King Philippe said, adding that he hoped the recovery efforts can be "accelerated on the ground in order to allow each disaster victim to find a safe and warm home as quickly as possible".
"We are living in a period which challenges us deeply," he concluded. "We will overcome our present difficulties together, thanks to the human bonds whose value we have rediscovered.
"Let’s not be afraid of the future. Let’s approach it with confidence."
Photo: Eric Herchaft/Belga