Published On: Fri, Oct 13th, 2017

Refugees from St. Maarten in “bureaucratic nightmare”

HAARLEM – A group of fifteen homeless citizens from St. Maarten has hired attorney Leandro Thomas. He has to make sure that they are able to register in a Dutch municipality, Natasja Gibbs reports on Caribisch Netwerk.

The group of fifteen became homeless due to Hurricane Irma and they came on an evacuation flight to the Netherlands. There are five children in this group. Dutch municipalities, like for instance Haarlem, refuse to register them.

“If there is an emergency situation they can be assisted with emergency shelter; but really only with emergency shelter,” the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations says. The refugees from St. Maarten want to pick up the pieces of their life again. “I take care of my blind mother and I want to go back to school, says 21-year old Nikita.

Citizens from St. Maarten who want to register in the Netherlands have to show proof that they de-registered from the island. But according to the refugees that is impossible, given the current situation on the island.

“The St. Maarten House in The Hague gave us a mail-address on the island, but we do not get any reaction,” says Sella who fled to the Netherlands with her 10-year old son. We are literally caught in a bureaucratic nightmare.”

Attorney Thomas says that the Dutch municipalities are making little effort to address the situation. He also says that they are hiding behind non-existent policies. The law Basic Registration Persons contains an article that makes an exception for people from Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten. Municipalities cannot just refuse to register these people.”

Interview with 21-year old Nikita: