UEFA will today mark the unveiling of a new cause to reunite families caught up in armed conflicts and other situations of violence, with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk set to present a cheque for €100,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Dutchman will receive the cheque from UEFA vice-president Michele Uva before the Reds’ Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich at Anfield.
The donation will then be presented to Martin Schüepp, the deputy regional director for Europe and central Asia at the ICRC.
“I would like to thank UEFA’s partner, the ICRC, for its devoted and outstanding work in reuniting separated families across the world that have been torn apart by conflicts, natural disasters and other situations of violence,” said Uva.
“UEFA is delighted to donate this cheque to this important long-term programme of the ICRC, to bring people, especially children, back together with their loved ones.”
Van Dijk was chosen to present the cheque after being named in the UEFA.com Fans’ Team of the Year 2018.
A runner-up with Liverpool in last season’s Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev, the centre-back featured in the all-star XI for the first time.
“I think it’s really important because I don’t think too many other organisations are doing this and I believe it’s a good project to support,” he said.
“Family is the most important thing in the world – at the end of the day you want to be together, you want to be with your family. The kids want to be with their fathers and likewise with their mothers. It’s special that the ICRC is doing this and we should definitely encourage people to help.”
Van Dijk, a proud father to two young daughters, added that it would be hard for him to even contemplate being torn apart from his family.
“I can’t imagine not being able to see my kids or that they could be somewhere where you don’t even know where they are,” said the 27-year-old.
“I can’t imagine and hopefully I won’t ever have to imagine that, but as I said, it is very special that the ICRC is helping these families.”
In 2018 the ICRC reunited 1,000 family members, of whom more than 800 were children. However, with armed conflicts affecting millions of people across the globe, it is a constant challenge for the ICRC to reunite families with loved ones.
“At the moment we are looking for more than 100,000 missing people worldwide. Reconnecting families is as important to our humanitarian mission as providing food, shelter or water,” said Schüepp.
“We work in situations of armed conflict, other situations of violence and migration across the world, and we frequently hear that people’s absolute priority is to find out if their loved ones are safe.
“UEFA is an important partner and knowing this donation will help reunite families torn apart by conflict and violence is encouraging to continue this essential work as well as the partnership with UEFA.”
Over the course of a partnership lasting more than 20 years, UEFA has donated in excess of €3.5m to the ICRC to assist disadvantaged people around the world.