National fundraising action for Sint Maarten kicks off

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten, 7 Sept 2017
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Sint Maarten, 7 Sept 2017Photo: Mediacentrum Defensie / Gerben van Es

At 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations officially launched the national fundraising action for Sint Maarten, Saba and Eustatius, who were all hit by devastating Hurricane Irma last week. The action "The Netherlands helps Sint Maarten" is a collaboration between the Red Cross and Dutch broadcasters RTL, NPO and SBS.

When the action started, the Red Cross already raised 5.25 million euros on Giro 5125, established for hurricane relief for the three islands. All three islands form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Plasterk kicked off the fundraiser with singer Jamai and a number of school children in Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum. Throughout the day, various Dutch celebrities will visit the institute to take part in the fundraiser. 

According to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the only thing to do in the face of the terrible devastation Hurricane Irma left on Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius, is to help. "My call is simple: give on Giro 5125. Give what you can do without. Because the people on Sint Maarten and the other islands desperately need our help", he said to NOS.

Public broadcasters RTL and SBS6 will dedicate television and radio time to the fundraiser, hurricane and the situation on the islands throughout the day. NPO 1 will show brief updates about what's happening at Vision and Sound for the entire day. At 9:30 p.m. NPO1 will also broadcast a special program showing reports about the situation on Sint Maarten and about special fundraising actions in the Netherlands. 

Hurricane Irma hit the three Dutch islands last week Wednesday. Sint Maarten sustained the most damage. According to the Red Cross, 91 percent of the buildings on the island were damaged or destroyed. A third of the homes were completely destroyed. Shortly after the hurricane, desperate people started looting the stores. Given the situation on the island, the local authorities seemed unable to restore public order.

The Netherlands already deployed a large number of soldiers to the islands to help start the cleanup and restore public order. On Thursday 49 Dutch police officers left for Sint Maarten, according to RTL Nieuws. They will help with "basic police care" and take over duties from soldiers already on the island. Earlier this week Plasterk also announced that the Netherlands is sending a third navy ship loaded with supplies to the island.