ORANJESTAD, St. Eustatius  (27 October 2023) – Statia is the first island in the Caribbean Netherlands to participate in UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI). Island Commissioner Reuben Merkman received Sacha Bökkerink, Head of Advocacy and Programmes of UNICEF the Netherland this week to mark this special occasion.

Government Commissioner Alida Francis had previously signed the cooperation agreement, making Statia the first Dutch municipality to sign on to CFCI. This agreement is an important step towards the goal of the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child to develop child-friendly environments.

By joining this international initiative, Statia demonstrates its commitment to becoming a more child-friendly place. This UNICEF initiative offers tools to implement children's rights, both policy wise and in practice.

“It is important for Statia to become a part of the initiative because our children must have a good start in life, have access to good quality social services, live in a safe, secure and clean environment, and live normal lives without facing exploitation, violence and abuse. In short, they must have a fair chance in life,”   said Merkman, the island commissioner, following his meeting with the UNICEF official.

 “We are delighted that Statia is officially part of the first group of municipalities in the Netherlands to join the CFCI. We already has a youth participation group, but it remains important to continuously look closely at the living conditions of all children and youth on our island,”  he added.

By participating in the international Child Friendly Cities Initiative, Statia can include the rights and opportunities of children in local policy and its implementation. UNICEF the Netherlands has developed a child friend checklist as a tool within the CFCI programme.

 “This Checklist allows municipalities to assess how child-friendly they actually are,” said Bökkerink, “and which steps should be taken to assure a better implementation of the rights of children.”

Statia has already begun working on the local assessment with a view to setting goals for the coming years. Along with local partners, children and young people, the discussions will revolve around the most critical issued that must be addressed. Concrete actions will then be taken with the aim of becoming a full child-friendly city, with a safe and healthy environment in which all children can develop to their full potential.