The Daily Herald writes that the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Thursday evening approved an amendment to the 2015 Kingdom Relations budget to make three million euros available to improve the position of children on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Through the amendment, submitted by Member of the Second Chamber Roelof van Laar of the Labour Party PvdA and Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian-Union (CU), a total of three million euros will be freed up in the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations for the period 2015-2017.
The funds will be used to improve the rights of children on the three islands, tackle the causes and consequences of poverty and violence, and enhance the participation of youngsters. The latter group will be actively involved in the spending of these funds. The additional funds will be used for programmes, to be executed by the social partners, foundations, the youth sector and private sector, under the watchful eye of the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF Nederland, which presented a series of reports on children’s rights in the Dutch Caribbean in May 2013.
The Children’s Rights Plan, of which a first draft was presented by the Kingdom Task ForcChildren’s Rights earlier this month, will play a key role in the spending of the funds. The Caribbean Netherlands also has a task force that aims to improve children’s rights and tackle domestic violence.Van Laar said on Friday that he was very happy with the approval of the amendment that was carried by a broad majority in Parliament. He said that the children’s rights summit held in Leiden last week, organised by UNICEF Nederland, showed that there were many people and organisations on the islands willing and able to contribute to improving the position of children.
“The money is meant to help with that. Many good things can be done with these funds,” Van Laar told The Daily Herald. Van Laar will keep the issue of children’s rights on the political agenda. At his request, a debate of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations has been planned on December 11, with Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk to discuss this matter.“The Children’s Rights Plan was a first step. We now have to continue working out the details of this plan and its execution. Politicians have a role in this,” said Van Laar. Children’s rights will also be on the agenda of the Inter-Parliamentary Con-sultation of the Kingdom, which gathers in Aruba in January 2015. Van Laar said he hoped that the Parliaments would be able to give off a joint signal that all countries in the Kingdom were committed to improving children’s rights.
UNICEF Nederland said it was great news that additional funds would be freed up to improve the situation. “The research that UNICEF has presented last year shows that this is very necessary. Much is being done on the islands, but there are still concerns about children being confronted with poverty, violence, neglect and in-sufficient opportunities to develop themselves,” said Karin Kloosterboer of UNICEF Nederland.“By approving this amendment, the Second Chamber makes clear that the children on the three islands are not being forgotten,” said Kloosterboer in an invited comment.
She said that the next step was to carefully look at how these funds would be used in order to bring structural improvement to the situation of children. The spending and management of the additional funds will be coordinated with UNICEF Nederland to ensure that the money is spent in the most effective way possible to maximise the benefits for the children on the three islands