In 2017, the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten was hit by two very severe hurricanes. This natural disaster has exacerbated existing problems such as poverty and violence against children. After the hurricanes, UNICEF assessed what was needed for children in terms of education, child protection and psychosocial support and we provided assistance in 2018, 2019 and 2020. We also conducted research on the Early Childhood Development sector to analyse the level of access for children aged 0-4 years and the quality of the services.
In 2020 UNICEF published a report on the situation of children and young people on Sint Maarten; the Situation Analysis (SitAn) on children and adolescents 2020. The short summary is available here.
Hurricane Irma will not be the last hurricane to affect the children of St. Maarten. That is why it is important to incorporate disaster preparedness into the education sector. We advise schools on safety plans and how to integrate lessons and disaster exercises. UNICEF Netherlands has helped improve disaster preparedness in the area of child protection. Several disaster preparedness protocols were developed in the sector, organizations participated in workshops and practiced in an emergency simulation exercise. A protocol has been developed between the six islands of the kingdom to properly arrange the evacuation of children, so that supervision, guardianship and practical assistance to children will improve.
UNICEF is currently supporting the Sint Maarten government:
We provide training and workshops for civil servants and professionals, support with our technical expertise, set up public campaigns, conduct research and advocate and support towards better policies for children.