Almost nothing of the 550 million euros in aid money the Netherlands set aside for Sint Maarten after hurricane Irma has been spent. As a result, the residents of the island still have little concrete results a year after the disaster, the Court of Audit said in a report published on Thursday, NU.nl reports.
While the Caribbean had a quiet hurricane season so far this year, that may change in the coming days. On Thursday or Friday Dutch time, Hurricane Isaac will cross paths with the Windward Islands. The Dutch islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius can expect some extreme weather with very strong winds and lots of rain, Weeronline reports.
Exactly a year ago today Sint Maarten was hit by Hurricane Irma. About a third of the 20 million euros the Dutch raised for aid to the island last year, has since been spent. The money was mainly used to provide basic necessities - food, water and shelter, RTL Nieuws reports.
The Dutch navy intercepted over 400 kilograms of cocaine on the Caribbean. The drugs were in packages thrown overboard by a boat sailing under the Venezuelan flag, ANP reports.
The crew of naval vessel Zr. MS. Friesland noticed that the boat's sailing behavior was odd and decided to investigate. When the navy tried to contact the crew, the boat sailed away at high speed.
Sixteen sports bags full of drugs were discovered in a material container on the terrain of the Van Braam Houckgeest barracks in Doorn on Tuesday. It involved dozens of kilograms of what seems to be cocaine, the Koninklijke Marechausssee, a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military, said on Twitter.
The drugs were sent to the Netherlands Forensic Institution for testing.
A legislative proposal by PVV parliamentarians Sietse Fritsma and Machiel de Graaf to send criminal Antilleans back to Aruba, Curacao or Sint Maarten got no support from other parties in parliament. "This is not possible and we should also not want this", CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg said in a debate in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, NOS reports.
Two subsidiaries of construction company VolkerWessels are suspected of paying bribes to obtain construction contracts on Sint Maarten. The Tax Authority's investigative department FIOD is investigating, a spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor confirmed to ANP.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten. Reconstruction following the devastation left by Hurricane Irma is still in full swing on the three islands, which form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, RTL Nieuws reports.
Five of the 15 police cars the Netherlands gave to Sint Maarten after hurricane Irma, don't run anymore, the island's Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever said to newspaper The Daily Herald.
The parts of the five broken down cars are being used to keep the ten remaining cars up and running, he said. How they broke is unclear.
Nearly seven months after hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Sint Maarten, the first financial aid from the Netherlands is heading towards the island. 110 million euros for reconstruction will be released, State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations announced on Wednesday. The money comes from an aid fund of 550 million euros, which will be managed by the World Bank, NOS reports.
2017 was a busy year for the Netherlands, with parliamentary elections and a new government forming, a hurricane hitting three islands that form part of the Kingdom, and a number of murders that rocked the country. Here follows a summary of the biggest stories of the year.
On Wednesday the Sint Maarten parliament adopted a law on establishing an Integrity Committee.
A number of Sint Maarten residents will receive hardware store vouchers within a few weeks so that they can get the necessary supplies to repair their homes damaged by hurricane Irma, a spokesperson for the Red Cross said to NU.nl. The vouchers will be distributed to the most vulnerable people on the island, according to the spokesperson.
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.
State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations is demanding that outgoing Sint Maarten's departing Prime Minister William Marlin resign. As long as Marlin is the Prime Minister of the island, the Dutch government can not make money available to start repairing the devastation Hurricane Irma left on the island in September, he said, according to NU.nl.
National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen is critical about the Dutch government's stance on how to handle Sint Maarten residents who came to seek shelter in the Netherlands after Hurricane Irma caused devastation on the island in September. According to the Dutch government, aid money is going to the island, so emergency relief is happening there.
Political elections in Sint Maarten will be held in February instead of on January 6, island's government announced. The polling date was shifted as authorities fear election preparations will take more time than expected due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma this past September.
Governor Eugene Holiday announced that the elections for the new parliament will be held on February 26, according to news wire ANP. He said that in order to prepare for "orderly and careful elections", more time was needed.
The parliament of Sint Maarten, the States, passed a motion of no confidence against six of the seven minsters in its government, including Prime Minister William Marlin on Thursday. The government was disbanded and new elections will be held in January, governor Eugene Holiday announced in a statement. Until then, the island will be ruled by an interim government that still needs to be established, ANP reports.
Sint Maarten prime minister William Marlin rejected the Netherlands' conditions for emergency aid to the island following hurricane Irma, Trouw reports. In a letter to Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Marlin wrote that Sint Maarten can not agree to the conditions by the deadline of October 31st, but that he is open to come to the Netherlands to discuss other conditions .
Rebuilding Sint Maarten after the devastation Hurricane Irma left behind, will cost hundreds of millions of euros at least, Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations said in the Tweede Kamer on Thursday. From next week Friday, the Dutch government will work on starting an aid fund for the island, NU.nl reports.
The Association of Caribbean Mediaworkers (ACM) launched a wide effort to raise funds for their colleagues on the Caribbean islands that were hit by Hurricane Irma. Part of that effort is a crowdfunding campaign in the Netherlands, primarily focused on bringing aid and equipment to journalists on the Dutch island of Sint Maarten, which was hit hardest by the Category 5 hurricane on September 6th.
The Dutch government is trying to find shelter for 25 Sint Maarten residents. They flew to the Netherlands and asked for help after Hurricane Irma destroyed their homes, RTL Nieuws reports.
Hurricane Maria pulled past Sint Maarten during the early hours of Wednesday morning, at first sight with out causing much damage. Sint Eustatius and Saba got more wind and rain this time around, compared to hurricane Irma two weeks ago, but there too the damages seem to be limited, AD reports. The hurricane is still increasing in strength and is now heading towards the American Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.