Foreign minister Bert Koenders has asked the United Nations to help with the relief effort on hurricane-hit Caribbean island Sint Maarten.
Speaking at the UN meeting in New York, Koenders said that the hurricane had caused enormous damage on the island. ‘Repairing the damage will be a massive task,’ he said. ‘I therefore call on the UN to be generous in making financial resources and expertise available to help with the rebuilding of Sint Maarten.’
Koenders also met foreign ministers from Britain and France and has had talks with several individual UN agencies. He urged the UN to act ‘quickly and flexibly’. ‘At times like these there is no time for bureaucracy,’ the minister said.
Several UN agencies are already active in the region and €12m has been allocated for the relief effort by the UN development programme and humanitarian aid agency, the foreign ministry said.
Koenders has also called on the UN to establish the position of special representative for climate and safety to focus on the problems being brought about by climate change.
The minister said small Caribbean countries will be increasingly vulnerable to powerful hurricanes and that a special representative would be able to help them prepare.
According to Trouw, the Netherlands is creating a multi-million euro fund to finance the reconstruction of the island. The fund will provide loans under very strict conditions to ensure maximum monitoring.
Sources in The Hague and on Sint Maarten told the paper that the fund may be as high as €260m but that the final amount will be decided in the coming weeks.
The fund will not be controlled by the island’s autonomous government but by a newly created body under the authority of the Netherlands.
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