Latest on Dutch emergency relief in the wake of hurricane Irma

There are currently 550 Dutch military personnel working in St Maarten, 49 National Police officers providing support to St Maarten’s police force, and 40 members of the Urban Search and Rescue Team helping to provide emergency relief and restore fire and ambulance services. Four thousand people have now been evacuated. Food, water and medical supplies are being transported to the island daily by sea and air, and the joint support ship HNLMS Karel Doorman is en route with more supplies. This is just some of the assistance being provided to the islands of St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba from the Netherlands, as well as from Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire, in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk today sent a summary of relief efforts to the House of Representatives.

In recent days the focus of the emergency assistance has been on restoring vital infrastructure on the three islands, including air traffic, port access, roads and water distribution. For St Maarten the priority for the immediate future is the further restoration of vital infrastructure: the airport, sea port, prison, water supplies, homes, the hospital, GP clinics, pharmacies and schools, as well as improving the effectiveness of distribution points. The island’s residents need to be able to resume day-to-day life as soon as possible. Life is now returning to normal on St Eustatius and Saba following the rapid restoration of primary infrastructure, such as roads, water distribution, power supplies, airports and ports.

A temporary Ministerial Committee for the Reconstruction of St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba has been set up to ensure the much needed, rapid reconstruction of the islands and the continuation of efforts in the longer term. As part of its remit, the Committee will determine how the Netherlands will assist in the reconstruction and set priorities accordingly. It will also look at the roles of the Netherlands, the European Union and other international organisations, as well as at administrative, legal and financial frameworks. Where necessary, the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom will take decisions on these matters.