Red Cross appeal kicks off with national day for Sint Maarten

Damage to Philipsburg. Photo: Ministry of Defence

Nederland helpt Sint Maarten, a Red Cross appeal for money to help the relief effort in the storm ravaged islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint-Eustatius was launched on Friday morning by home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk.

The aim of today’s appeal is to inform people about the situation in the islands and to collect as much money as possible for the victims via the special charity bank account number Giro 5125.

EU help for Sint Maarten has been complicated by the fact that the Dutch half of the island is an autonomous nation within the kingdom of the Netherlands and hence not part of the EU. However, it is widely expected the EU will provide financial help.

The Red Cross estimates that 91% of buildings in Sint Maarten, which suffered most from the effects of hurricane Irma, were damaged and that two thirds of houses are completely destroyed. Earlier Sint Maarten’s prime minister William Marlin put the damage to the island at around €1bn.

Money has already been pouring in, writes, and the amount collected now stands at over €5m.

War zone

Prime minister Rutte has called for solidarity with the stricken island, which was described as a ‘war zone’ by king Willem-Alexander when he visited Sint Maarten earlier this week.

‘We are one kingdom and we won’t abandon the people in the disaster area. Give what you can because the people of Sint Maarten and the other islands need our help,’ Rutte said.

On Thursday a contingent of 49 police officers travelled to Sint Maarten to carry out ‘basic police tasks’ and join those already there.

Plasterk has also announced that the navy’s joint logistic support ship Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman is returning from exercises in the Baltic Sea and will be loaded with supplies to take to the Caribbean.

Two other Dutch navy ships, the ZR MS Zeeland and ZR Ms Pelikaan, are already involved in the relief effort as are hundreds of soldiers.

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