Published On: Tue, Oct 11th, 2016

Dutch navy on its way to Haiti

WILLEMSTAD – The Royal Navy for the Caribbean is on its way to Haiti to provide emergency assistance in the wake of Hurricane Matthew that tore across the island and caused enormous damages, Dick Drayer reports on Caribisch Netwerk. For the first time the private sector in Curacao extends a helping hand as well. A building supplies store that employs a large number of Haitians provided basic construction material and helped loading the navy vessel Zr. Ms. Pelikaan.

The Haitian authorities have asked the Netherlands for assistance. Ministers Hennis-Plasschaert (Defense) and Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) have promised the help.

The station ship of the Royal Navy, Zr. Ms. Holland departed from Curacao on Sunday evening. On board are the 75-strong regular crew and several other teams.

There is for instance a hydrographic team that is able to chart waterways and the bottom of the ports. There are also additional doctors and military nurses and a team of military engineers specialized in charting the damages caused by Matthew. Specialists of the Red Cross are also part of the mission.

Frank Hoenkamp coordinates the delivery of construction materials from a local building supplies market. “Everybody has seen the images, everybody is reading the newspapers. If you see what has happened to those people over there, the decisions you take have no limits. We employ Haitians and for that reason this action gives us a good feeling.”

Maartje van der Maas, the spokeswoman for the navy says that the local support for emergency assistance is a first. “It is also an extraordinary situation. Primary schools have approached us as well with the question whether we are able to transport items they are going to collect.”

Apart from local construction material the navy also takes along emergency assistance packages with equipment that can be used to clear roads and homes of debris. On Sunday the transport vessel Zr. Ms. Pelikaan was also loaded with additional goods and people. This vessel left Curacao in the early morning hours of Monday on its way to Haiti. The Caribbean defense staff will predominantly provide assistance in the southwest of the island where the hurricane caused the most damages and deaths.

The Pelikaan and the Holland are deployed as part of a European effort to assist Haiti. They will stay for at least a week on the island. On location, the European Union and the United Nations will coordinate all efforts. The financing of these humanitarian actions comes from the emergency assistance budget of Minister Ploumen. On top of that come the €750,000 the Dutch government has contributed to emergency assistance via the Red Cross.

Goederen Kooyman voor Haiti

A marine officer supervises loading of building material at a hardware store in Willemstad. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / Peter Bijpost