Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (2666)

Dutch extend ban on passenger flights from UK, South Africa to April 1

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The ban on passenger fights from Britain, South Africa and a number of countries in South America is to be extended to April 1, transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has confirmed.

The ban was brought in on January 23 in an effort to stop more virulent variants of coronavirus taking hold and was due to expire on March 4.

The ban is being extended in line with recommendations from the government’s Outbreak Management Team which says that it should remain in force because, so few people are following the quarantine requirements.

‘As long as compliance with the quarantine policy in the Netherlands is insufficient, it is important to keep passenger flows to a minimum, especially from countries where the different variants are circulating,’ the OMT said.

The ban on flights from Cape Verde, however, is being lifted. The government said last month that it is working on regulations which would enshrine the quarantine requirements in law.

Arrivals in the Netherlands are required to show negative coronavirus test results and to go into quarantine for at least five days, 10 if they do not take a second test five days after their arrival.



Run-off rain water to be channeled away from foot cliff Fort Oranje

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANESTAD) - A project to channel run-off rainwater away from the foot of the cliff at Fort Oranje started last Monday, March 1st, 2021. This project, which is part of the ongoing cliff stabilization at Fort Oranje and lower town, is conducted by Innovative Business Solution (IBS) and will be completed within three months.

The work at the foot of the cliff will also avoid compromising the stability of the cliff and will minimize erosion of the surrounding areas.

The project includes the construction of a concrete drain culvert along the entire foot of the cliff. This drain culvert starts at the Glaes gut reservoir and ends at the the Harbor Club Bar & Restaurant. It will be connected to the existing drainage culvert between the Old Gin House Hotel and the Golden Era Hotel. A 2-meter-high wall will also be constructed.

The contract for the execution of the project called ‘Drainage at the foot of Fort Oranje’ was signed last Monday, March 1st 2021.

SEU site watch




Coronavirus cases back over 5,000, positive test rate still falling

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – More than 5,000 new coronavirus infections were reported by the public health agency RIVM on Wednesday, raising the seven-day average to its highest level in five weeks.

A total of 5,090 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, more than 1,000 higher than Tuesday’s figure and 15% more than a week ago. In the last seven days infections have risen by an average of 5.2%.

Another 222 patients were admitted to hospital with Covid-19, while 40 people were transferred to intensive care, a level last seen in early January. However, the total number of hospital patients fell by 38 to 1,946, of whom 549 are being treated in intensive care.

The proportion of tests that were positive fell to 8.6%, continuing the downward trend of the last three weeks. The average number of positive tests in the last seven days is 4,658.

The virus is continuing to decline in nursing homes, with 385 institutions reporting an infection in the last two weeks compared to 452 a week ago. Another 48 deaths were confirmed on Tueday, against a seven-day average figure of 42.

The RIVM also said 1,425,319 vaccine doses have been given so far.



Rutte condemns ‘scandalous’ attack on coronavirus testing centre

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime minister Mark Rutte has described Wednesday morning’s explosion at a coronavirus testing centre in Noord-Holland as ‘scandalous’.

‘That health board staff who are working hard to keep us safe, and protect this country against coronavirus, should be targeted is terrible, really scandalous,’ Rutte told reporters.

The explosion happened shortly before 7am in the town of Bovenkarspel. One security guard was on duty at the time but was not injured. Several windows were broken by the blast.

Broadcaster NOS said a metal pipe exploded outside the building on the Middenweg, but this has not been confirmed. The area remains sealed off while explosives experts check to make sure the location is safe.

Other ministers and politicians too were quick to condemn the act. ‘We’ve been leaning on frontline staff heavily for a year and then we get this,’ said health minister Hugo de Jonge.

This has an impact on all of us, said regional health board chairman André Rouvoet. It was a ‘cowardly act’, he said.


The number of positive test results in the Bovenkarspel region has been rising sharply for several days, particularly in nearby Hoorn. Hoorn is now fourth in the list of towns and cities with the most infections per head of the population.

This is not the first time a test centre has been the target of an attack. Before Christmas, vandals set fire to the test centre on the former island of Urk and in January, efforts were made to set fire to the Hilversum centre.

Windows were also smashed at test centres in Amsterdam and in Urmond in Limburg in December.



Coronavirus cases increase by 7% overall but down in elderly population

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Coronavirus infections have increased for the second week running, but the rise was partly the result of wider testing, according to the public health agency RIVM’s latest weekly update.

The RIVM said the latest calculation of the reproductive rate at 1.14 was particularly concerning, as a value above 1 indicates that the virus is spreading faster than people are recovering.

Susan van den Hof, head of the RIVM’s Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance, told NOS: ‘This looks like the beginning of the third wave, because the number of new infections cases is rising again.

It’s what we expected with the arrival of the South African variant and the British variant.’

In the seven days to March 2 the number of positive cases was 7% higher than the previous week, with 31,984 people testing positive. The total number of tests taken increased by 20%, while 8.9% of tests were positive – the lowest rate since September.

The rise in infections was heavily concentrated in the under-20 population, where there was a 25% increase in recorded cases.

Age groups between 20 and 50 saw smaller increases of between 3.5% and 11%, while over-80s experienced double-digit declines, suggesting vaccines are having an impact.

All variants over 1

All types of coronavirus had an R value above 1 on February 12, from 1.02 for the established strain to 1.37 for the newest variant that was first detected in South Africa.

The B-117 strain, also known as the ‘British variant’, had an R value of 1.26. Hospital numbers were broadly similar to last week, with 1,133 new admissions, while 224 people were transferred to intensive care, a drop of 8%.

Another 308 deaths were recorded, 26% lower than the previous week’s figure of 413.


Among the 25 safety board regions the infection rate ranged from 108.7 per 100,000 people in Gelderland-Midden to 332.7 in Noord-Holland-Noord. The latter figure reflects an explosion in cases around the town of Hoorn, where 1% of the population has tested positive in the last seven days.

The first death from coronavirus has also been announced on the island of Schiermonnikoog, which was the last place in the Netherlands to lose its corona-free status in October.

In the daily figures for Tuesday another 4,032 positive tests were confirmed, below the seven-day average but 6.2% higher than last Tuesday. The number of patients in hospital increased by 69 to 1,984, of whom 540 are being treated in intensive care.



Voters give party leaders food for thought in first TV election debate

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Six party leaders took to the stage in the first televised debate of the general election campaign, but it was a series of cameos from ordinary voters that stole the show.

The debate featured the six largest parties in the last parliament, including three members of the coalition but without Labour (PvdA). Two of the leaders are women – Sigrid Kaag of D66 and Lilian Marijnissen of the Socialist Party, while Kaag and CDA leader Wopke Hoekstra are spearheading an election campaign for the first time.

The two-hour event on RTL was broken down into a series of five themed debates in issues, but each started with a party leader being confronted by a member of the public.

Prime minister Mark Rutte was taken to task by Kristie Rongen, one of the victims of the child benefit scandal that prompted the cabinet’s resignation six weeks ago. An irate Rongen accused Rutte of ducking responsibility for the tax office’s aggressive pursuit of thousands of working families who were wrongly accused of fraud and forced to pay back child support.

‘What if it still isn’t sorted out a year from now?’ she said. ‘Will you take responsibility then? We asked for you not to come back, but you’re standing for election again.’

Rutte replied: ‘I think it’s dreadful. Lots of things have gone badly wrong, other things have gone wrong, but we’re working our socks off, together with the parents’ panels, to put it right.’ Rongen cut in: ‘You’re complicit in this.’

Couscous bar

Nadia Zerouali, a cookery writer from Winterswijk in Gelderland, asked Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration PVV, why his party manifesto wanted to disenfranchise her and her Moroccan-Dutch family for having two passports.

Wilders claimed his concerns were about Dutch Muslims prioritising Sharia law over the constitution and told Zerouali, who has a teenage son, that ‘Moroccan youths’ were responsible for a high proportion of crime.

When Zerouali invited him to discuss things further at her couscous bar, Wilders replied: ‘Fine, but I’ll leave the couscous if you don’t mind. I’ll bring my own meatballs.’

Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra faced a couple who run a restaurant in Voorburg who demanded to know why their financial support had been delayed for two months, while GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver met a student who was struggling to pay back loans, which Klaver’s party previously supported.

But Rutte’s encounter with Kirstie Rongen was the most painful and a rare moment when the prime minister’s composure slipped, as the format made it difficult for the leaders to lay a glove on each other.

Coronavirus and economy

Everyone working on the programme was required to take a coronavirus test before the debate, but the leaders were left to decide for themselves. Rutte, Kaag and Marijnissen chose not to take a test while Wilders declined to say.

Rutte said: ‘I’ve never been tested: you only do that if you’ve got symptoms or you’re in a presymptomatic group.’ There was broad consensus on the coronavirus crisis, though Wilders began the debate with a tirade against the cabinet’s failures to invest in healthcare.

‘They’ve closed five hospitals in recent years, 19 first aid points and 15 intensive care units,’ he said. Kaag was the only leader to support the idea of vaccine passports to allow people to return to normal life sooner once they have received their coronavirus jab, combined with more widespread fast testing.

Socialist leader Lilian Marijnissen said vaccine passports would lead to ‘divide and rule’ between generations. Kaag was admonished by Hoekstra, who pointed out that she had recently agreed with her cabinet colleagues on a plan for rapid testing.

‘This is not a D66 plan,’ he said.

Nuclear power

Hoekstra clashed with Rutte on the question of whether top earners should be taxed more to pay for the extra support during the coronavirus crisis.

Rutte argued high taxes could put companies off from hiring new staff, but Hoekstra accused him of driving forward inequality. ‘You wanted to press ahead with student loans, you wanted to cut taxes for the biggest companies and you wanted to press ahead with casual contracts in the labour market.’

The parties also differed sharply on responding to climate change, with GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver coming under pressure from the right to include nuclear energy in the renewable energy plan. Klaver accused Rutte and Hoekstra of lying about the sustainability of nuclear power: ‘Nuclear energy will not help us reach our climate goals in 10 years’ time,’ he said.

But Hoekstra called on GroenLinks to put ‘ideological debates’ to one side and use all possible means to achieve the targets.



Dutch vaccination programme catches up and Leiden vaccine is close to coming on stream

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Despite starting last in the EU with its coronavirus vaccination programme, some 7% of the Dutch have now had their first jab, propelling the Netherlands up the vaccination league tables, according to European figures.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says of the EU member states, only Malta (10%), Denmark (8.8%) and Finland (7.7%) have vaccinated a bigger proportion of their populations.

Bulgaria remains bottom of the list, with a vaccination rate so far of 3%. In total, nearly 43 million doses have been shipped to EU countries and over 30 milion people have been vaccinated, the ECDPC says.

The Leiden-developed Johnson & Johnson vaccine has now been approved for use in the US and is expected to be cleared by the Amsterdam-based European medicines agency on March 11.

The Netherlands has ordered 11.3 million doses of the single dose vaccine, of which three million will be in the first batch next quarter. The vaccine reaches maximum efficacy after 28 days.

‘The good thing about the Janssen vaccine is that the research involved some of the mutant forms,’ immunologist Huub Savelkoul told broadcaster NOS.


Outside people working in healthcare or with vulnerable health issues, the Netherlands is currently vaccinating people aged 60 to 64 with the AstraZeneca two-dose vaccine via their family doctors.

Britain, no longer a member of the EU, has the highest rate in Europe. More than 20 million people in Britain have now had their first jab and people over the age of 40 are on the vaccination list for March.



Dutch Jurists Report Netherlands' Racist Practices in Caribbean Islands to United Nations Entity

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Dutch International Commission of Jurists, also known as the Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM), submitted an alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in March of 2020, the Pro Soualiga Foundation said in a press statement. 

The Netherlands was set to appear before CERD in 2020, however, their appearance was rescheduled for August of 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  The alternative report begins by stating that "the Kingdom's constitutional framework provides the European Netherlands with a greater distribution of power in the Kingdom government" which creates a situation where "the view of the elected governments of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten on Kingdom issues are considered to be less important," according to the Pro Soualiga press statement.  

NJCM makes the following assertions regarding "Discrimination of Caribbean Citizens of the Kingdom":

1) The constitutional framework of the Kingdom creates a lopsided distribution of power between the Caribbean Netherlands and the European Netherlands.

2) Under certain circumstances, the Kingdom government can also involve itself in autonomous matters of the islands.

3) The European Netherlands are a majority in the Kingdom government and therefore are always able to overrule the ministers plenipotentiary of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten.

4) Due to the fact that there is no Kingdom parliament, the Dutch parliament acts as the Kingdom parliament without the other countries having a right to vote.

5) This historically grown constitutional imbalance upholds racialized discourses and practices.

6)  Kingdom interference in the autonomous matters of the Caribbean countries are in fact interference by the Netherlands.

7) There is no such thing as Kingdom interference in autonomous matters of the Netherlands.

8) The Dutch legislature has the discretion to differentiate between the BES islands and the European Netherlands.

9) The legislature uses the aforementioned discretion to justify unequal rights to social welfare on the BES Islands.

10) Majority of the BES island population believe that they live under worse economic and political circumstances compared to the situation before 2010.

11) The Dutch legislature and local (Dutch) governments differentiate between Dutch citizens born in the European Netherlands, and those born in or migrating from the Dutch Caribbean.

The NJCM concludes that in order to eradicate the continued practices of "racial discrimination and inequality" on the Caribbean islands, it is imperative for the Dutch government to be more mindful "of the fact that Dutch Caribbean communities have a right to be included in decision-making processes, directly affecting them, in accordance with internationally established democratic values, and voting and representational rights."  The Netherlands is due to answer the allegations posed by NJCM in August of 2021. 

Please find the NJCM Alternative Report below:

NJCM Alternative Report


Prime Minister Jacobs commemorates our history makers yesterday, today and in the future

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Every Year in February, Black History Month is celebrated all over the world to signify the journey of the black community. As a community, we reflect on our achievements and the struggles our ancestors faced and some still face today. Though at the end of February, I take this time to reflect on the celebration of our people who have made a difference and those who are making a difference today, as well as those who will move us even higher in the future.

Black history month is very important to all St. Maarteners, as we also look at the struggles of those who have gone before us and the opportunities they have left for us to inherit. I encourage all St. Maarteners to continue telling ‘we story,’ through whichever medium chosen and let the tradition of storytelling help to maintain our culture, norms, achievements, and struggles. We must also strive to record tangible and intangible memories for posterity.

Sadly, we see that racism and injustice against people of color are still prevalent in many countries. Within our own community, we still see inequalities. Black history month continues to raise awareness of the journey and the fight that people of color continue to fight, in action, words and deeds.

On behalf of the Government of St. Maarten, I take this opportunity to invite all citizens to continue learning about your heritage and striving to rise above what others may perceive as our limits. I pledge to continue to work together with all stakeholders to ensure our education systems elevate to ensure all our children have the opportunity to learn and teach all there is to learn, as well as be inspired to make history themselves.

Many local authors whose work is available at our local library and bookstores, as well as online, can help us to learn about our story and our Island's History. Let us also pledge not only to celebrate and commemorate in February but choose to study and highlight our icons throughout history and today, all through the year via our various mediums in order to ensure our history lives on.

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