THE HAGUE–The Dutch government is and will remain willing to support a solid cooperation to assist Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire in their dealings with the effects of the crisis in Venezuela and the related migration to the islands.
Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops confirmed this in a letter he sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday as a follow-up to a plenary debate that took place last month.
“The Netherlands assists the countries/islands when asked and wherever possible, whether it concerns the challenges in the area of migration, support in the talks regarding the future of the Curaçao refinery, or the safeguarding of fuel supply in Bonaire. The Netherlands is and will remain willing to provide support in good cooperation, and does exactly that,” stated Knops.
Several Dutch departments visited Curaçao and Aruba in 2018 to talk about further developing of the migration policy and the processes of handling a larger number of migrants, Knops explained.
On the request of Curaçao’s Minister of Justice Quincy Girigorie, Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security experts visited Curaçao in August 2018 to provide knowhow in enhancing the procedure to provide protection for vulnerable Venezuela migrants. Experts from Curaçao and Aruba visited several departments in the Netherlands in November 2018.
State Secretary of Justice and Security Mark Harbers, who resigned on Tuesday due to mistakes in a report on crimes committed by asylum seekers in the Netherlands, and Knops made 132,000 euros available to the Curaçao government last year to help cover the cost of reconstructing the detention capacity for foreigners.
“The available detention capacity was no longer deemed sufficient. Precondition was that the location and the regime of the foreigners’ detention would comply with international standards and that the foreigners would have access to legal aid and medical care,” stated Knops.
The Curaçao government has started with the first improvement measures of the so-called “foreigners’ barracks” at the SDKK prison facility. The works are progressing, Knops said.
The cooperation will continue in 2019 based on the January and February 2019 requests for assistance by the Curaçao and Aruba governments. According to Knops, the outcome of the mutual working visits in 2018 are a good basis to give concrete content to the requested assistance.
He stressed that the countries Curaçao and Aruba remained responsible for their own affairs. “I find it important to keep emphasising that the Netherlands is not taking over responsibilities from Aruba and Curaçao. Migration policy is and remains a country affair,” he said.
However, he added, the Dutch government feels the responsibility to think along with the countries where their needs are and to decide positively where possible on requests for assistance.
In February 2019 the Aruba government requested temporary technical assistance for trainings by the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND regarding the handling of asylum requests. After approval by Harbers, the IND provided a train-the-trainer course late March.
Trainings have also been provided in Curaçao by Ministry of Justice and Security experts regarding the request procedure for protection. A document training will be facilitated for document researchers of the Curaçao Police Force. The Dutch government further made 25,000 euros available to purchase vaccinations for Venezuelans on the island.
On Curaçao government’s request, the Ministry of Defence has provided additional support for the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard by deploying Curaçao and Aruba militia members to assist on the Coast Guard vessels. This means that now an almost 24/7 boat team is available for the Coast Guard stations in Aruba and Curaçao.
In his letter, Knops also responded to the concerns expressed by international organisations about the vulnerable status of Venezuelan refugees in Curaçao and Aruba. He said the Dutch government found it important that international treaties on human rights were lived up to.
However, it was clear to him that, based on the good cooperation between the immigration services and the efforts being made on the islands, all parties were doing their utmost to give content to the international treaties.