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Negative trends in the behavior of community.

PHILIPSBURG:--- In the aftermaths of hurricanes Irma and Maria the Police Department has noticed a trend in the unnecessary violent and or aggressive behavior among person within the community. This behavior which is unlike that, under other circumstances, has the fullest attention of the police department and will be dealt with in accordance with the law. This violent and aggressive behavior according to the Health Care Psychologist Miranda Veltman, who has been working for the police force of Sint Maarten since the passing of these hurricanes, that these psychological symptoms can be experienced by anyone after a major natural disaster such as hurricane Irma or any other disaster.
Mrs. Veltman stated that; a stressful experience of that magnitude can cause an increase in violence by adults as well as youth. In the last few weeks and days the criminal offences have become more violent by the youth and as well as by adults such as; violent armed robberies, a group students ill-treating another student with a baseball bat, shooting incident in Middle Region, fatal stabbing in Sint Peters and a man pushing his fiancée from his moving vehicle, just to name a few.
During a disaster, your mind is so focused on surviving that it tends to function on ‘automatic pilot’. After things calm down in 4 to 6 weeks, your mind gets the chance to realize what happened. At this point, some people can go into shock. Some people can experience numbness and/or denial at first. After this initial shock other stress reactions can be experienced. These could be:

  • having flashbacks
  • negative mood changes
  • dissociative symptoms (not aware of your surroundings)
  • avoiding situations
  • getting easily irritated or become aggressive

When people have unhealthy coping styles, like drinking alcohol or using drugs, aggression can increase.
The human resilience dictates that the majority of survivors will naturally recover from disasters over time. They will move on without having severe, long-lasting mental health issues. Certain factors increase resilience after disasters.
An important factor is the severity of the exposure. At highest risk are those that go through the disaster themselves. Injury and life threat are the factors that lead most often to mental health problems. Other risk factors to develop a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) have to do with the age, gender, culture, the network and other factors specific to the survivor (Mental Health Effects following Disaster: Risk and Resilience Factors, 2015 and DSM-5, 2013 ). According American research between the 30%-50% of the people who experienced a Hurricane (natural disaster), develop Post Traumatic Stress and need psychological guidance.
People with developing stress symptoms without the necessary help show an increase in these symptoms. For instance aggression-like symptoms will become worse and can endanger the individual or their environment.
The advice of the Police Department and that of the psychologist Mrs. Veltman is to immediately seek professional help when stress reactions are very severe and do not decrease over a period time or even become worse. Ask your General Practitioner (house doctor) for a referral to a professional.
A lot of people lost their jobs after these major hurricanes. According to research, crime increases with poverty. Study shows that caregivers as well as youth can commit crime. It is important to keep an eye on those who go through a difficult time. Be there for each other and help your direct environment/ neighbor. Emotional support can reduce stress and help people to cope better with the situation. It is important that during stressful times to not neglect children. It is common that youth who committed crimes to have been physically and or emotionally abused or neglected. “It takes a village to raise a child”. Give children positive attention and try to be available for them. Children can be happy with less but they always will need emotional support.
The Police department will support and will work together with any and all other instances who have taken this issue very seriously in the benefit of the community of Sint Maarten.

KPSM Police Report

Frans lauds GEBE management, personnel for ‘saving St. Maarten’.

fransrichardson05092016PHILIPSBURG:--- Member of Parliament Frans Richardson on Friday lauded the management of GEBE for the diligent work currently being executed and for their professionalism under pressure-filled circumstances following hurricanes Irma and Maria. The MP also praised GEBE’s personnel for going above and beyond in putting St. Maarten I position for a quicker recovery.

Richardson said the government and people of St. Maarten put its faith in three local professionals to manage and forge a future for the utility company and, in his opinion, they are fulfilling the obligations bestowed upon them. He said Kenrick Chittick, Iris Arrindell and Veronica Webster-Jansen, CEO, CFO and COO respectively, should be commended for their work.

“There are many people predicted failure from these three proud local people. But they have handled themselves very well. I am sure they had their plans that Irma interrupted, but the test of a person is how you act in times of tribulation and chaos. Despite GEBE suffering major damage to its infrastructure, management rallied their staff and literally saved St. Maarten,” the MP said.

MP Richardson explained that he used “saved St. Maarten” because without electricity and water, the island would have been crippled. He mentioned some of the neighboring islands as examples, including Puerto Rico.

“Sometimes we take for granted the amount of pride our people put into their work and the amount of work it took to get us to this point after the biggest storm to ever strike this region. Think about the magnitude of Irma, look at the destruction of other islands and St. Maarten and look at what GEBE under current management was able to achieve. I think it is truly an amazing accomplishment and they should be honored and commended,” Richardson said.

The MP added that GEBE’s personnel who left their personal circumstances to go out into the community to restore utilities at record pace, should also be lauded. “All over Dutch St. Maarten you see our people restoring our island. We received help for which we are grateful, but much of the work was executed by our own who refused to let St. Maarten stay down. We should be very proud of the management and personnel of GEBE,” the MP concluded.

Press Release from Member of Parliament Frans Richardson

Nature Foundation Records Worrisome Red Algae Outbreak on St. Maarten Reefs.

nfredalgae19112017COLE BAY:--- The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been continuously monitoring the reefs for their health and to assess the underwater damage caused by Hurricane Irma. During the reef surveys held at the beginning of November, several shallower dive sites started to show a worrisome outbreak of red algae species. Especially on reefs shallower than 35 feet in depth large red algae blooms were recorded in the Marine Park and on other reefs around the island.

Blooms of red algae can hamper the regrowth of several reef species which were damaged due to hurricane Irma’s swells. Red algae are strong competitors and their fast growth rate will leave no space for important reef builders such as corals and sponges to recover. Algae blooms can be an indicator for water quality, showing a decrease in the water quality on St Maarten reefs and surroundings. Certain red algae species can also be a health issue when very abundant and close to shore. The state of our reefs is especially now worrisome as already 50% of the reef has been damaged wby Hurricane Irma.

An outbreak of red algae is probably due to increased nutrients feeding the algae and causing it to bloom. Increased nutrient input could be associated with hurricane passage or due to pollution such as sewage outflow. High hurricane winds mix the ocean water bringing nutrients from the deep, at a time when warm summer water are often nutrient depleted. The nutrients spur algae to grow, creating large blooms of algae. However, the red algae outbreak could be also related to the recent pump out of the Great Salt Pond, causing polluted water with high nutrients to flow to our reefs.

The Nature Foundation would like to warn all people, businesses, and establishments to be sure no sewage flows are going into the ocean or lagoon to prevent further water deterioration.

Nature Foundation Press Release

Royal Caribbean Confirms Holiday Cruise Schedule and is on track for December 17 return. Sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises returns February 2018.

harmoneyoftheseas19112017PORT ST. MAARTEN:--- A Port St. Maarten delegation from the Cruise Business Unit met recently with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) representatives in Miami, Florida, to provide an update on the progress of current recovery efforts in destination Sint Maarten.
During the discussions, Royal Caribbean reiterated its commitment to the destination and provided a schedule of the vessels that will call on Sint Maarten starting in mid-December, just in time for the peak family travel season.
Grandeur of the Seas will be the first cruise ship bringing guests to rediscover the marquee destination on December 17, followed by daily visits across six vessels, including two of the world’s largest cruise ships.
The ships and dates are as follows: Independence of the Seas, December 25 and 29; Jewel of the Seas, December 26; Freedom of the Seas, December 27; Adventure of the Seas, December 31; and Harmony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas on January 2 and 3, 2018 respectively.
Celebrity Cruises has also announced that Celebrity Eclipse will be returning to the island on February 4, 2018. For more information on Royal Caribbean’s and Celebrity Cruises’ most current Caribbean itineraries, visit and
The first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to return to the island, Grandeur of the Seas, debuted in 1996 and underwent a comprehensive revitalization in May 2012. As part of the Vision Class, the vessel has 11 decks and carries 2,446 guests and 760 crew members.
The famed Oasis Class sister ships Harmony of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas -- sailing with nearly 6,000 new visitors each week -- will return to weekly calls on Sint Maarten in the New Year. Touted amongst the world’s best family vacations, Harmony and Oasis will introduce a new generation of adventure-seeking travelers to Sint Maarten.
"Royal Caribbean is a true partner of St. Maarten. We continue to prepare with anticipation for the return of Grandeur of the Seas on December 17. Port St. Maarten, our merchants, tour operators, vendors, taxi drivers, all of us are grateful to RCCL for its continued commitment to St. Maarten and confidence in our product.
“We will be ready, we will be creative and we will re-invent our product to meet the expectations of cruisers, while still providing the best experience under the Caribbean sun," stated Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher.
Port St. Maarten representatives, have had various discussions with cruise representatives over the past weeks with regard to the readiness of the island to receive cruise passengers and being able to provide the unique destination experience.
“Reassurance was given by Royal Caribbean about its vessels returning to the destination. The Oasis Class ships are again visiting Sint Maarten in January, marking the return to full operations as the Island further enhances its offerings to cruise passengers.
“The Island has a unique opportunity to show the cruise lines how committed we are in assuring great and memorable experiences to passengers as we recover from hurricane Irma damages. The cruise line expects all of us to step up to the plate and offer the true Sint Maarten experience, which we will.
“Port St. Maarten will continue communicating with all key stakeholders throughout this process to share the feedback based on the continuous calls, emails, and face to face meetings with cruise executives. As a destination, we have a great relationship with the cruise industry and will listen to their feedback to assure we maintain our status as a marquee port of call.
“The future within the cruise industry is promising, however we must push to re-invent and upgrade our product offerings which will translate into cruise passengers increasing demand to “Rediscover” Sint Maarten. We commend the community and private sector for their efforts thus far, and we must continue the drive to keep pushing,” Port St. Maarten representatives stated over the weekend.
Royal Caribbean International sails 24 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 14 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards. Media can stay up-to-date by following @RoyalCaribPR on Twitter, and visiting For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should call their travel agent; visit; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.
Royal Caribbean International is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns and operates three global brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. We are a 50 percent joint venture owner of the German brand TUI Cruises, a 49 percent shareholder in the Spanish brand Pullmantur and a minority shareholder in the Chinese brand SkySea Cruises. Together, these brands operate a combined total of 48 ships with an additional twelve on order. They operate diverse itineraries around the world that call on approximately 535 destinations on all seven continents. Additional information can be found
Celebrity Cruises' iconic "X" is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time. Celebrity Cruises' 12 ships offer modern luxury vacations visiting all seven continents. Celebrity also presents incredible cruise tour experiences in Alaska and Canada. Celebrity is one of five cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL). For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit, or call your travel agent.

Port St. Maarten Press Release

November 20 is Universal Children’s Day.

Community encouraged to play a role in making day relevant for children

GREAT BAY:--- The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children and improving children's welfare.

It is a date on which parents, teachers, nurses and doctors, government representatives and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals as well as young people and children themselves are encouraged to play an important part in making Universal Children's Day relevant for their societies and communities.
It is also the date on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. Thirty years later the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on that same date.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as any human person who has not reached the age of eighteen years.
The convention defines that children specifically have the right to equal protection, which means that every child is entitled to the same treatment at the hands of authority regardless of race, gender, disability, or religion.
The Charter of Child Rights is built on the principle that "all children are born with fundamental freedoms and all human beings have some inherent rights".
This, in turn, is to guarantee the health, well-being, and safety of children and youth.

The question remains if children know what their rights are. Among the fundamental rights of the child is a right to non-discrimination, whereby kids should be allowed to be who they are and be treated equally to everyone else.
Then there is the right to life, survival, and development.
In St. Maarten, numerous entities look after and advocate child and youth rights in daily life. The Court of Guardianship is one such organization. Another one is the Department of Youth Affairs, which is charged with the monitoring and reporting on the Rights of the Child to the United Nations.
For St. Maarten, Universal Children’s Day can additionally be an opportunity to further look at the plight of children, particularly in the wake of the passing of hurricane Irma and María in September of this year. As could be remembered, discussions about children in St. Maarten was recently at the forefront, among others, because of serious damages sustained to schools, in addition to the thousands of home structures. Many parents opted, among other things, to evacuate children to Curacao, Aruba, and Holland to attend school.

But discussions about the country’s children have been ongoing for some time. This is visible in the various laws and policies that are in place, such as the Law on Compulsory Education, the Integrated Youth Policy, that is presently being updated, and the National Early Childhood Development Policy, that is now being drafted. The passage of the storm has cemented the need to review all policies in order to update them to include areas pertaining to disaster, amongst others. Research and reading up on these policies will help the community to better meet the needs of children as the most vulnerable among us.

Around the world, many schools and other educational institutions make special efforts to inform children of their rights according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Teachers are encouraged to stimulate their pupils to think about the differences between themselves and others and explain the idea of “rights”. Every year on St. Maarten, the Department of Youth Affairs in collaboration with the Court of guardianship, St. Maarten Youth Council, the St. Maarten National Commission for UNESCO, St. Maarten Early Childhood Development Association (SECDA) and the Department responsible for youth affairs on the French side of St. Maarten organize activities (like presentations in song, dance, poetry, debates, panel discussions) to inform youth of St. Maarten about their rights. Events are also held to commemorate this international day.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), like the Millennium Development Goals before them, are playing a significant role in determining the global approach to international development. Though goals focus on sustainable development, they are inseparably linked to human rights generally, and the rights of children specifically. When asking ourselves what we can do for children, we can look at the SDGs, whether poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2) and find targets and indicators which can help us to support and monitor the children rights situation on Sint Maarten, starting by making children and parents aware of those fundamental rights.

In the current context of St. Maarten recovering from the September 2017 hurricanes, November 20 should be seen as an opportunity to give consideration as to how to continue giving content to promoting and protecting children’s rights. Points for discussion can always vary but can include topics such as social protection and support for children as well as prevention of overweight and obesity among children through healthy weight-programs in districts and schools.

DCOMM Press Release

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