Brussels, 20 December 2010 - It was in good spirits and sense of humour that Mr. Philippe Courard, the Belgian Secretary of State for Social Integration and Combating Poverty, received the three boxes overfilled with the more than 135, 000 signatures from people from all over Europe.
The hand over was introduced by the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Ms. Lesley-Anne Knight. Mr. Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa gave a helping hand and handed physically over the boxes to Mr. Courard.
In her speech, Ms. Knight underlined the necessity to continue addressing poverty and social exclusion in a long term perspective notwithstanding the crisis.
She also highlighted that recognising poverty, understanding it and acting against it is a civic engagement and “a moral and political mandate to decision-makers at all levels to work towards the Zero Poverty petition goals: Eradicate child poverty in Europe; Ensure a minimum level of social protection for everyone; Increase the provision of social and healthcare services; and Ensure decent jobs for all.
Mr. Courard, who joked briefly about the weight of the boxes, thanked Caritas and all the people involved in Zero Poverty for their commitment and strong resolution to combat poverty.
Ms. Knight also contributed to the ceremony of delivery of the Journalist Awards, which was won by the Spanish team of the Andalusian television for their documentary about the success story of a school in a deprived area of the town of Seville “A School for Hope” and the Danish reporter Peter Stubager for his reportage "The Meltdown of a Nuclear City."
From left to right: Lesley Anne Knight, Philippe Courard and Jorge Nuño Mayer
Caritas at the Closing Conference of the European Year 2010