Home Affairs Sec. visits Sint Maarten to restore political relationship

Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma, 7 Sept 2017
Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma, 7 Sept 2017Photo: @kon_marine / Twitter

State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations is currently paying a visit to Sint Maarten. "My commitment is focused on restoring relations with the Netherlands in order to ensure that the path is paved for reconstruction. The resignation of the prime minister ensured that we can moved forward and that we can help Sint Maarten further", he said to NU.nl from the island.

William Marlin resigned as Prime Minister of Sint Maarten on Friday, following pressure from the Netherlands and the Council of Ministers to do so. The island's parliament passed a motion of no confidence against Marlin and most of his minsters early this month, due to his refusal to accept the Netherlands conditions for reconstruction aid. Knops will discuss the political situation with governor Eugene Holiday on Tuesday.

According to Knops, the devastation hurricane Irma left on the island in September is still clearly visible. "A lot is still needed. The emergency aid has come to an end, but there is still a lot of damage to public buildings", the State Secretary said to NU.nl. "The purpose of the visit is also to speak to people who are affected and to prepare for the reconstruction that the Netherlands is going to carry out." The Netherlands set 550 million euros aside for this restoration work. 

Around 30 percent of Sint Maarten's population sustained severe psychological problems from Hurricane Irma, APAP, the association of psychologists on the island said in television program Zembla. APAP calls on the Sint Maarten government to not only focus on material damage in their reconstruction work, but also on the psychological well-being of the population. If too little is done about this now, it will have major consequences in the long term. "Psychological help is fundamental for this society", the association wrote. 

Later this week, Knops will be joined by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. They will also visit Saba and Sint Eustatius


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