24 May 2017
THE HAGUE–The improving of children’s rights in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba remains high on the social and political agenda, according to Dutch caretaker State Secretary of Public Health Martin van Rijn, who assured that the Dutch Government, together with the public entities is investing to make things better for the children on the islands.
Van Rijn recently provided an overview of the actions and the plans to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. He did so in response to concerns expressed by Dutch Children’s Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer about the situation for children on the islands in the December 2016 Children’s Rights Monitor.
In Kalverboer’s opinion, that situation must be improved, especially the issue of poverty needs to be addressed. “Poverty is one of the biggest problems in the Caribbean Netherlands. An estimated 60 per cent of the population lives under the poverty line. Domestic violence and child abuse are a recurrent problem. “It is high-time to improve things,” she stated in the monitor report.
State Secretary Van Rijn noted that the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations has made 3 million euros available for the period 2015 to 2017 to enable Bonaire, Statia and Saba to address and improve children’s rights.
Due to the limited capacity, it is proving hard for the islands to execute the children’s rights action plans on their own. That is why the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF Netherlands has been asked to provide assistance, an offer that was embraced by the islands, Van Rijn stated.
UNICEF has started on all three islands with assistance in the area of education, participation and awareness on domestic violence, in cooperation with schools and other local social organisations.
Together with the Missing Chapter Foundation, UNICEF is also working on setting up Children Councils on the individual islands with the aim to encourage decision-takers in the private sector and the government to have meaningful discussions on the issues that affect children.
Domestic violence and children’s abuse remain an important priority. Agreements are being worked on with the three public entities on prevention, expert enhancement, fixing the necessary basic facilities, the cooperation between chain partners and the developing of an easy accessible reporting structure.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten