Following questions from Saba News, State Secretary Raymond Knops announced this morning at his press conference, that the BES islands will receive an additional subsidy for travel, electricity and internet costs. The part of the conference addressing this can be viewed below. The press conference was in Dutch.
For SEC, the fixed connection fee (“Capacity on your invoice”) will be subsidized in full from May 1 till December 31.
The cost for the internet connection will be subsidized during the same time frame with $25 / month.
There will be a subsidy on the ferry tickets.
The full text (in Dutch) is HERE.
Meanwhile, the Royal Dutch Navy vessel Zr. Ms. Karel Doorman has arrived in St. Maarten. The behemoth will dock at Port St. Maarten from where it will render assistance in the battle against the silence enemy – coronavirus COVID-19.
Its medical staff can support the new ICU on Statia.
The vessel departed for the Caribbean from its home base in Den Helder, the Netherlands on April 13. The Dutch Ministry of Defence deployed the ship to provide support during the corona crisis. The plan is that she will stay for three months in the Caribbean, but that could be extended.
With the presence of the logistic support vessel the islands can, apart from the already available station vessel Zr. Ms. Zeeland, rely on a versatile capacity that can be deployed fast. Karel Doorman can offer transport support to guarantee, for instance, the food certainty. In addition, the navy vessel can support the Coast Guard in maritime border control and it can serve as an operational base to support public order by quickly putting staff and equipment ashore. Finally, the vessel also disposes of medical facilities to assist the local healthcare in non-COVID-19 related emergency care.
Karel Doorman is, apart from its own capacities as a transport and supply vessel, strengthened with two Cougar helicopters of the Air Force for medical transport and medical evacuations, a medical team with surgical capacity, a medical team for basic care ashore and drones of the Army and Navy for image composition. Moreover, navy units with vehicles and landing crafts are included for transport. If so required, an additional navy unit can be flown in. The vessel also brings along a hurricane emergency package.
State Secretary Raymond Knops has announced 16.5 million euros in humanitarian aid to the three islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten and the three Bes islands for the next three months.
With that money, food packages and hygiene products can be bought and distributed for those in need. In Curaçao alone, an estimated 50,000 people depend on food aid because of the corona crisis.
Aid will be channeled through existing channels of local organizations that are already operational and not through island governments. But the final form in which the aid will take place has not yet been determined.