Published On: Tue, Nov 14th, 2017

Ombudsman stands up for homeless St. Maarteners

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Reinier van Zutphen - NL Ombudsman - stands up for St. MaartenersHILVERSUM – National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen wants answers from Minister of Home Affairs Kasja Ollongren about the problems with registering homeless St. Maarteners in certain municipalities, Natasja Gibbs reports on Caribisch Netwerk.

After Hurricane Irma, dozens of homeless St. Maarteners fled on an evacuation flight to the Netherlands. Several municipalities do register them, but a city like Haarlem refuses to do this “because the St. Maarteners are homeless and cannot support themselves.”

In a letter dated September 6, Minister Ollongren wrote that the point of departure in the Netherlands is that citizens are able to support themselves. According to the Ombudsman a citizens must at all times be able to register; their housing and living situation should not be a factor.

The municipalities that refuse to register the homeless St. Maarteners and the ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations say that they want to talk with the St. Maarteners about their intentions and their view on the future. Based of that information municipalities could begin to register them, according to the ministry.

Ombudsman Van Zutphen disagrees with this approach. He wrote to Minister Ollongren: “This way of acting does not have a basis in the law. The only requirement the law stipulates is that St. Maarteners have to present proof that they have de-registered. And that requirement is currently not reasonable.”

The Ombudsman wants to know from the minister whether the rules for registering in a Dutch municipality are different for St. Maarteners than they are for Dutch citizens who transfer from another municipality. If that is so, the Ombudsman demands an explanation. Van Zutphen has asked the minister to respond to his questions within three weeks.