photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE — Member of Parliament Antje Diertens (D66) has said that she empathizes with the inhabitants of the Caribbean islands. “I’m a mother myself. And I think: this must be hard for the parents on the island, that their children are in the Netherlands.”

“The students aren’t allowed to go back to the islands. And during these tough times, you want your entire family together”, says Diertens. “That’s when I decided, I’m going to record a video for everyone on the islands.”

Video for the Caribbean islands from D66-MP Diertens which she posted on her social media.

Video for the Caribbean islands from D66-MP Diertens which she posted on her social media. English subtitles:

‘Take social distancing seriously’
The MP notes that she’s closely following the developments on the islands. What she notices? “That sometimes people are still too close together. What people have to try and understand is that the island is in crisis. It is extremely important to follow the social distancing guidelines.”

“Keep one-and-a-half meters apart from each other. Don’t hug each other, don’t shake hands”, says Dieters. “Naturally that’s very different than the natural warm character of the inhabitants which we all know and love.”

MP’s working from home
The advice in the Netherlands is to stay at home as much as possible and to avoid social contacts. Parliament is only partially open and a lot of debates have been delayed. Diertens works out of her apartment in The Hague.
“I roll out of bed, and walk downstairs on a few square meters. A collection of dashboards, headsets, and a TV await me downstairs. I’m constantly checking my WhatsApp groups to keep updated with what’s going on.”

‘Islands will not be forgotten’
Diertens is the one who debates the other political parties on behalf of the D66 when it comes to the coronavirus. “I spend my days in video conferences. I can assure you: the islands will not be forgotten. I mention the islands during each special meeting.”

‘During crisis one Kingdom’
“As an MP, I’m in constant contact with politicians on the islands. I make time for that”, says Diertens. “In times of crisis and during disasters, you see that we are one Kingdom; that is truly the case.”

“I know that the islands are in constant contact with the RIVM and the ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. I also give the ministry information whenever I hear something. That way we can keep each other informed.”

‘Take it seriously, but stay optimistic’
“What I want everyone on the islands to know is the following: take this seriously and try to follow the rules. Don’t experience it as meddling when someone tells you to keep your distance.”

“But what’s also important is: to remain optimistic. In life you have to be able to deal with uncertainties. We’ll get through this together.”