Published On: Fri, Mar 16th, 2018

New Minister of Foreign Affairs to visit Curaçao and Aruba

Stef-BlokTHE HAGUE - The recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok will be visiting Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten in early April.

The minister announced this in a meeting with the Dutch Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, which included the flow of refugees from Venezuela to the ABC islands and their admission. Bram van Ojik MP spoke of an 'alarming situation'. He pleaded with reference to the UN Refugee Convention for Venezuelans who reach Bonaire, Curaçao and Aruba not to be treated as illegal immigrants, but to offer 'decent' care and an asylum procedure.

Blok said to share the concerns about the situation in the neighboring country. “Shortly after I took office I called the prime ministers of the Caribbean countries. It is also at the top of their agenda; it is very much present in their communities and may be disruptive. In addition, the countries for supplying the oil refineries are very dependent on oil from Venezuela. They are also important employers.”

Blok acknowledged that Venezuelans are in 'serious humanitarian need', but do not fall under the protection of the UN Refugee Convention because most refugees are not victims of personal threats. “Border control and admission are primarily the responsibility of the Caribbean countries themselves. As is the case in the Kingdom, the Netherlands provides assistance in the form of expertise where necessary. Undersecretary in charge of Kingdom Relations Knops and I have regular contact about this. Because I am also their minister (foreign policy is a Kingdom affair), I think it is important to visit them quickly.”

The minister did not go into Van Ojik's remark that "the moment has come for the EU to take more serious actions.” By that he meant refining the previously introduced and Dutch-sponsored sanctions against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. On Curaçao and Aruba there are increasing rumors about these sanctions because they would damage the interests of the islands. For example, the already lasting border blockade appears to be the direct result of the EU measures against Venezuela.

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