The residents of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten have faced major challenges since COVID-19 and the consequent loss of tourism. The poverty problem has increased sharply on the islands. At the moment, a total of about 80,000 people are helped with food aid made possible by the Netherlands.
The government’s starting point has always been that the Netherlands should not leave the most vulnerable people out in the cold. For this reason, funding has been made available for food aid since May 2020: € 16.5 million for the period May to mid-September 20201 and € 25.2 million for the period from mid-September to December 20202 . This turned out to be sufficient to implement the program on Curacao until May 1, 2021 and on Aruba and St. Maarten until February 1. An additional € 14.9 million was made available for Aruba and St. Maarten for the period February to May 2021.3 .
It is very important that the food aid program is continued in the coming period. The cabinet has therefore decided to make € 15.2 million available to continue the food aid program in Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten until June 2021.
The Red Cross is currently coordinating the food aid program. A lot of hard work is being done on the transition of food aid to a more long-term embedding of the program in the local authorities. This applies to both food aid to residents and food aid to undocumented migrants. The countries intend to deploy an NGO for the latter target group. The aim is to realize the transition by May 1, 2021 on Curacao and Sint Maarten and by July 1, 2021 on Aruba. After the first transition in May, more will soon become clear about the continuation of the food aid program. Your House will be informed about this at that time.
Normally, new policy is implemented after the States General has authorized the Budget Act. Since postponement of the implementation of this urgent measure, which is in the interest of central government, cannot wait for formal authorization from both Houses of the States General, the cabinet will start the implementation of the measure. This acts in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 2.27 of the Government Accounts Act 2016.
The State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations RW Knops