Last week Victim Support Europe was invited by V-Europe – organisation for victims of attacks – to accompany them to the Parliamentary research commission on the Brussels attacks.
This joint performance in front of the commission is a result of series of actions in the recent period since VSE is continuously supporting V-Europe in their efforts to force Belgian authorities to take action in order to improve the situation of the victims.
On this occasion we were asked by the victims to speak on needs of victims of terrorism. Levent Altan, VSE Executive director talked about the different phases in which victims need to be helped and also talked about good practices in other EU countries when dealing with terrorism.
VSE Policy officer, An Verelst brought attention to the importance of timely and adapted communication towards the victims and made it clear that good information provision can significantly reduce harm.
In their address to the commission, victims expressed how they are feeling abandoned and presented all the problems they face while getting through the administrative burden cause by governments and insurance companies.
We were humbled by the victims of the Brussels attacks courage to testify on their experience.
Our action had immediate impact. The Parliamentary commission was immediately engaged. They clearly said that they think it is important to take action as soon as possible, in order to ensure that the victims of the Brussels attacks are better supported and that in the future there will ensure better coordination.
In the week after the Parliamentary Commission session, actions have been taken by Belgian government as well. Belgian Prime Minister admitted that mistakes were made and has also invited the victims to visit him. Ministry of Justice has said that victims of terrorism will get a special statut. Ministry of Justice Koen Geens also confirmed that victims of terrorism are facing complex administrative burden
Apart for the government, recent developments also got lot of media attention where media aslo emphasized that victims are feeling abandoned and pointed out that they need support, information and concrete help to overcome problems they face.