The Dutch government on Friday announced it would budget 23.8 million euros (about $26 million) for the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Aruba to help deal with a massive influx of refugees from Venezuela.
Dutch Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops said recent hurricane disasters highlighted the need to be “prepared for different crisis scenarios” in the Caribbean.
Some of the enhanced funding is for security measures, including better coastal radar capability, more maritime patrols, and cameras to monitor beaches where migrants might come ashore. Other funds are earmarked for building more temporary shelters, detention centers, rescue equipment, and trained immigration agents.
Aruba is reportedly budgeting more money for schools and vaccinations to cope with the arrival of Venezuelan refugees. A sizable number of child refugees are abandoned by one or both parents as they look for work in other countries.
Migrant advocacy groups have criticized Curacao for being slow to establish an asylum process and refusing to allow Venezuelans to apply for temporary legal status.
“The government of Curaçao has been openly detaining and deporting people back to Venezuela, and without options to regularize their status, many Venezuelans are forced to live in hiding, in fear of the authorities, and at the mercy of employers who often exploit their irregular status,” Human Rights Watch complained in April.
In February, the regime of socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro announced it was closing the maritime border with the Dutch Caribbean islands to prevent the Netherlands from teaming up with the Venezuelan opposition to bring humanitarian aid to the starving country. Maduro’s officials denounced the aid program as a plot to undermine their government.