Auteur Topic: Permanent Dutch Marines contingent for St. Maarten  (gelezen 4848 keer)

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Permanent Dutch Marines contingent for St. Maarten
« Reactie #43 Gepost op: 14/06/2012 | 15:05 uur »
THE HAGUE--The Dutch Government is planning to permanently station a contingent of Dutch marines in St. Maarten as of January 1, 2013.
Dutch caretaker Minister of Defence Hans Hillen announced this in the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber on Wednesday. Hillen said he had started making preparations to establish a permanent post in St. Maarten with 24 marines to be housed in their own small station.
"It is not that something is brewing there, but because the distance between St. Maarten and Curaçao and Aruba is simply too big when the assistance of the Dutch marines is needed," said Hillen, who explained that the marines in St. Maarten would mostly be there for humanitarian assistance, for example, in the case of a hurricane. In the event of a disaster in St. Eustatius or Saba, the marines could also be dispatched there.
Marines from Aruba and sometimes Curaçao are dispatched to St. Maarten when a natural threat like a hurricane looms, but it takes a while for them to arrive especially when they have to come by boat, because of the material that they bring along.
"Having marines at the scene right after a disaster can make a big difference. They can do good things," Hillen told The Daily Herald after the meeting. He said he didn't want to "just station five or six men" in St. Maarten. "It has to be a contingent of significance."
The marines will come from The Netherlands, not from the marine station in Savaneta, Aruba. Dutch Defence is becoming increasingly interested in the Dutch Caribbean, said Hillen, pointing out that the number of Royal Dutch Marechaussees in St. Maarten had also increased over the past years.
"Our presence in the Dutch Caribbean is extensive and we want to extend that to include the Windward Islands on a permanent basis. We want to keep our presence in the islands up to par," said Hillen.
Preparations have also begun to make funds available in Defence's budget, but details on the location of the barracks, for example, are not clear as yet. Hillen said he had been in contact with St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday about the project, but not with St. Maarten Minister of Justice Roland Duncan.
Members of Parliament's Permanent Committee for Defence were obviously surprised by the announcement that the Minister made during the general debate on the 2011 annual report and the 2012 plan of the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard.
Member of Parliament (MP) Angelien Eijsink of the Labour Party PvdA remarked that it "would have been nice" if the Minister had informed the Committee of this development in writing. Hillen explained that the details of his plan were not definite as yet and that this project was only in a preparatory stage. He promised to keep Parliament informed.

Bron: The Daily Harald (Sint Maarten)

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