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Nature Foundation Gives Recommendation on the Proper Cleaning and Disposal of Sargassum Seaweed

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has issued recommendations pertaining to the proper cleaning and disposal of Sargassum seaweed from along the nation’s beaches. There is a large influx of Sargassum seaweed currently making landfall on Sint Maarten. The Foundation has been coordinating monitoring efforts with partners in the region and based on weather predictions, satellite imagery and field surveys large mats of Sargassum will be impacting area for some time.

“With the current predictions it appears as if we are in a long-term Sargassum impact phase here in the North Eastern Caribbean,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets. “As such we would like to make recommendations on how to effectively remove Sargassum in terms of maintaining the beaches while simultaneously facilitating adequate cleanup,” continued Bervoets.

The Nature Foundation recommends that removal of Sargassum should be carried out manually without the use of heavy equipment and/or machinery;

After the Sargassum has been raked the left-over sand should be deposited back on the beach;

The collected Sargassum should be deposited at a designated location on the beaches which have been raked;

If practical the left-over Sargassum can be buried at a suitable location keeping in mind the safety and conservation of sea turtle nesting habitat.

“We have been working closely with our partners in the region and with local stakeholders in monitoring the situation and to find a way to control the amount of the weed washing up on beaches in the case of a significant influx. In the case of an influx we need to find a way to coordinate the removal of the seaweed in order to avoid serious risks to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings while the algae itself can be a hazard to the animals,” continued Bervoets.

Sargassum is a genus of brown (class Phaeophyceaeseaweed which is distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Sargassum first plagued St. Maarten in 2011 and 2012, with the Foundation having to warn swimmers to avoid swimming on certain beaches due to the large amount of Sargassum Weed and many beach front residences and hotels having to continuously clean washed up Sargassum.

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Police seeking community assistance to apprehend two-armed robbery suspects. Woman ill-treated during home robbery

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - On Friday, June 14th at approximately 10.30 P.M. Police Patrols and Detectives from the Special Robbery Unit were sent to a house in Sucker Garden to investigate an armed robbery which had taken place shortly before, police said on Monday.

On the scene, the investigating officers encountered a lady who was ill-treated during the armed robbery. She stated that two men, one of which was armed with a gun and dressed in dark clothing, entered the premises and asked for money while pointing the gun at her.

They then proceeded to wound her and took her personal items. Both men fled the scene after committing this act. The victim was taken to the St. Maarten Medical Center for medical assistance.

No suspect has been identified or arrested in this case. The Police is asking the community to come forward with information. If you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Armed Robberies Unit +1 721 – 542 22 22 Ext. 205 or call the anonymous Tip line 9300. This Tip line can also be reached from abroad on the number +1721 – 542 03 45. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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USP MP Brison: Government the hold up on UTS share sale

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament Rolando Brison on Sunday said regrettably that his first initiative law is falling behind due to waiting on answers from the government of St. Maarten. The legislation MP Brison referred to was the law aimed at authorizing government to undertake the sale proper sale of St. Maarten’s shares in United Telecommunication Services (UTS)

“A total of just 12 questions were posed by Members of Parliament that need to be answered by the Ministers of Finance and Justice. These questions were posed in the Central Committee handling of the draft initiative law, which is aimed at preventing the devaluation of the minority shares held by St. Maarten of UTS,” Brison said.  

The main premise behind MP Brison’s draft law is that the country risks having what is currently valued at 13 million dollars in assets reduced to cents on the dollar should government not finalize this negotiation.

“The government had already agreed as shareholder since May of 2016 to sell its shares. Curacao has completed its part of the process, but almost 3 years later the government is still dragging its feet and putting millions of guilders of what is the people’s assets at risk,” stated MP Brison, “Here we go again with the government’s irresponsible behavior putting what amounts to almost $2,000 per household in St. Maarten at risk.”

While the questions were posed in the central committee on June 5th, the questions posed to the government are already covered in a letter dated May 27th 2019. “Had the government answered the questions posed in my letter to them weeks ago, all these questions would have been covered. Yet to date I still await the official answer to these questions,” stated Brison, “The fact the neither of the Ministers were present at the Central Committee handling of such a crucial law is also very unfortunate, as was pointed out by various MP’s during the meeting.”

The MP envisions law paving the way for a 3 fold multiplicative benefit to the country, namely paying back APS and taking them out of the low coverage ration they currently stand in (staving off a need to raise the pension age to 65), funds being used for the development of affordable housing, and money being available to actually pay our police and other justice personnel what they are owed.

Members of the central committee, including some members of the coalition, expressed sentiments during the initial handling of the law that the government had “dropped the ball” on this issue. The law being initiated by MP Brison aims at picking up the ball to prevent a lackadaisical attitude from costing the public millions of guilders.

“This initiative is ready to go and should be moving forward, but once again the government is holding back progress with what appears to be an unwillingness to acknowledge that a member of the opposition is picking up a ball that the government themselves dropped. I did not go into parliament to be opposition or coalition. I am here as a member of parliament that simply works in the best interest of my people, regardless of which side of the isle I sit” explained Brison, “The government should cooperate with members of parliament and respect the initiative process. The right of initiative is not exclusive to the government or MP’s who support the coalition”

This law would be only the 3rd initiative law ever debated in Parliament and was completed in just 8 weeks from initiative to the start of the debate. “This legal process proves that MP’s can indeed present more laws and earn our salary the way we were meant to. And despite the fact that government, in what seems to be with purposeful neglect, hampers the legislative process of parliament, MP’s have to keep doing what we can to do our jobs. I for one am undeterred and will continue to hold the Ministers accountable while also keeping he public informed,” concluded Brison.

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Minister De Weever urges youngsters to join Coast Guard

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Justice, Cornelius De Weever is urging youngsters between the ages of 18-23 to attend the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard information and recruitment day on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at the substation located on Airport Road #2 in Simpson Bay.

“This is a great opportunity for our young men and women who may have an interest in joining the Coast Guard to attend the recruitment drive, and gets a firsthand look at what working with the Coast Guard entails,” said Minister De Weever.

During the recruitment drive there will be on the spot recruitment, information about the Coast Guard, viewing and tour of the boats and equipment. This is open to Dutch passport holders between the ages of 18-23 years.

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Prime Minister says let us “Rally Rally, around our National Flag”

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin delivered her National Flag Day Address early Thursday morning during the Flag Day ceremony that took place on top of Cole Bay hill look-out point.

The national address is as follows: “We are gathered here this morning, for the observance of National Flag Day on June 13th, this year we have chosen to pay homage to one of our most beautiful National Symbols, the Sint Maarten Flag here at this venue on Cole Bay Hill. The full celebration of the flag will be done as it was in 1985, on Sint Maarten Day, November 11th.

When one thinks of a country flag, we know that it represents the people of a country, and vice versa, the people represent the flag. It is no secret and it is well documented that the people of Sint Maarten are “resilient” and so too is the Sint Maarten Flag. The Sint Maarten flag was designed by Roselle Richardson, presented by Dr. Claude Wathey, approved and established in the Island Council on June 13th, 1985. Some 34 years later, it is safe to say that the Sint Maarten flag has withstood the test of time.

Today, the Sint Maarten Flag is forever a part of our Historical and Cultural heritage. For those that had the privilege to be apart or witness the genesis of our 10-10-10 celebrations it began with the lowering of the Netherlands Antilles Flag and culminated with the hoisting of the Sint Maarten Flag symbolizing the birth of Country Sint Maarten.

As outlined in the Governing Program the goal of this Government is to create awareness by promoting our national identity. Thus, we can achieve this objective by highlighting the importance of our National Symbols such as the Sint Maarten Flag. Watching our National flag flowing in the wind gives us hope, establishes pride in what we do. A National flag also gives us the strength to persevere even when times are tough.

Books such as “National Symbols” written by Lasana Sekou that describes the elements of the flag, cannot be underscored. These books must be cherished and used to enlighten our citizens and guests alike, as this country forges ahead on its quest of nation building. Our National flag is a shining symbol that brings us together as one.

This morning as the flag was being hoisted and as we have gathered here to pay respect to the Sint Maarten Flag, this simple action exemplifies a true sense of patriotism towards our beloved country Sint Maarten.

Every so often, it hurts when I see our flag discolored, worn or tattered but that dismay soon turns to pride and joy when we see a new Sint Maarten flag on a bright sunny morning like today flying so majestically with the Caribbean blue see in the background.

To those of you that fly your Sint Maarten flag regularly, please make sure to take pride by replacing your old flags and I encourage you to continue to show your patriotism and for those that have not joined in yet, please do so.

From today, let us come together; let us fly our Sint Maarten flags proudly. Go get a small one, get a medium one or get a big one, it does not matter just get one to wave as we express our love for this country.

As a reminder on Constitution Day, the second Monday in October and on Sint Maarten Day November 11th let your flag fly high. Today, on Flag Day June 13th, together with pride! - let us “rally rally, around our National Flag”!!

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Uniformed groups at attention at the SXM Flag on Cole Bay Hill.

 

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Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin addressing the gathering on National Flag Day.

 

 

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A push for market liberalization in the Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – (By Seth Miller) Can cooperation and market liberalization beat out protectionist interests in the Caribbean? The 2019 Caribavia conference wasted little time in bringing that question to the forefront. With representatives from airlines, tourism boards, regulators and governments gathered together in Sint Maarten the scene was set for a lively debate.

Core to the discussion was the question of whether external growth factors could benefit the islands in a way that offsets the risk of potential damage to their local operators. Few countries want to see their home airlines pushed out of business, but the business case for small, single island operations is hard to justify. Curacao recently suffered the loss of InselAir, leaving the island struggling to stay connected to the rest of the world. Giselle Hollander, Director of Traffic and Transport for the island spoke about some of the hard decisions her government is considering, specifically around trying to make sure its two small airlines can survive and thrive while also quickly restoring connectivity it needs. This is not only a tourism consideration but a broader economic challenge. Hollander does not want to develop a policy in isolation, however. Rather, she is keen to "work cooperatively on this front rather than fighting with each other. It is not effective to work on our own policy if it doesn't work within the region."

Hollander is not alone in working to ease regulatory burdens between the Caribbean islands. The Honorable Daniel Gibbs, President of the Collectivité of Saint Martin, described ongoing efforts to ease visa rules for visitors to the island, with a focus on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Gibbs knows that such policy adjustments represent "a concrete way to increase traffic" to help drive the economic recovery and development the island needs. Such a policy shift would directly support an increase in passengers to L'Espérance airport in Grand Case.

More broadly around the region other regulatory changes are also underway. The Bahamian government recently relaxed foreign ownership rules for its airlines. It is a small step, but one that is opening the market to greater investment and support of the island economies as the air traffic grows. Tropic Ocean Airways is one of several operators working with the governments to help push these changes. CEO Rob Ceravolo believes that change is underway, but also that the progress "is hampered by mistrust between the governments and businesses, and rightly so" based on prior policies that proved exploitative. New programs are being approached as partnerships rather than private entities simply asking for handouts from the governments.

Regulations around pilot licensing and the many jurisdictions also creates challenges for the region. Capt. Paul Delisle, Flight Operations Inspector for the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority notes that his organization delivers nearly identical legislation and standards to the countries it coordinates licensing for, yet it must still issue separate licenses for each country. A common licensing scheme was once the goal, but political barriers hindered that work. Enabling skilled workers to move easily among the islands and airlines could help further develop aviation in the region and reduce the brain drain of skilled workers from the islands.

Much work remains to get from these concepts to functional changes that deliver the benefits to the region. It requires governments to cooperate and compromise, with each other and with private industry. It also requires businesses to invest in their new markets, not just services of their own passengers. But the progress is beginning and results are starting to show.

About:

Seth Miller, Editor-in-Chief of PaxEx.Aero, has over a decade of experience covering the airline industry. With a strong focus on passenger experience, Seth also has deep knowledge of inflight connectivity and loyalty programs. He is widely respected as an unbiased commentator on the aviation industry.

He is frequently consulted on innovations in passenger experience by airlines and technology providers.

You can connect with Seth via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Sint Maarten well represented at the Global Economic Summit 2019 in The Hague

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – During the Global Economic Summit 2019 (GES 2019), co-hosted by the Governments of the Netherlands and the United States, Sint Maarten was represented by Cristal Legrand and Ife Badejo as local entrepreneurs with a drive and passion for innovation.

Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite also participated in representation of Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin. The two-day GES 2019 showcased the depth and breadth of innovations in the critical areas of energy, connectivity, agri/food and water health with the aim to improve lives around the world.

During the ONL side event with 40 ambassadors and more than 100 entrepreneurs and business reps on June 4th, the delegation comprised of the Minister and Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall, President of the Board of the Sint Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Benjamin Ortega, and Senior Policy Advisor, Carol Voges whom all met with institutions and companies interested in doing business with Sint Maarten spanning the areas of aviation, energy storage, network consulting, education services.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation, including Board members Louis Bute and Ife Badejo and Cabinet member Carol Voges, further met with representatives from Dutch entrepreneurial institutions (i.e. Chamber of Commerce, ONL, Invest.NL) to discuss partnerships with the intention to explore business opportunities, capacity building and knowledge transfer to the island.

Follow-up meetings are scheduled to be arranged with local counterparts and partners on Sint Maarten in the upcoming months.

During a courtesy visit to the Cabinet, Legrand, the winner of the Road to GES 2019 hailing from Sint Maarten, an avid and dedicated entrepreneur with Sint Maarten at heart, discussed her future plans for her business Le Grand Voyages.

Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, Legrand is a certified hospitality trainer and has rendered her services to other small and medium sized businesses on Sint Maarten through training after which these businesses received a certification in Hospitality.

The road ahead for Legrand and her business is a most exciting yet challenging one. The Minister Plenipotentiary was happy to be informed and updated about her plans and assured her that she will be most successful as her charisma and dedication to reach her goal are ever present.

The Cabinet proposed to assist where necessary and proposed to act as intermediary for both the Chamber and Legrand in maintaining contacts and in an advisory role. The importance of including the Cabinet in platform discussions are important as the contact with international partners can flow even more efficiently through proper utilization and the creation of a strong synergy with the local business platforms on Sint Maarten.

Minister Wuite, during her participation as representative for Sint Maarten at the GES ‘Future Now’ noted that there is a definite take away from this experience as the market to do business with Sint Maarten is open.

Various opportunities were explored, new innovative businesses and developments were presented and Minister Wuite believes that the global challenges for these sectors are real and of critical importance.

Different breakout sessions focused on priorities for Food & Agriculture and investment and funding opportunities for startups and scale up businesses. “The special break out session ‘Resilient islands’ was well attended, and Legrand did an excellent job to highlight her business pitch”.

The various platforms and mediums created by entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in the enhancement and sustainability of every economy, including Sint Maartens economy. Minister Wuite believes that economic opportunities will receive priority in the coming year at the Cabinet in the Netherlands and she thanked both Legrand and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for teaming up with the Cabinet in representing the island at GES 2019 and in so doing showcasing that Sint Maarten is indeed open for business.

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First Hurricane EXPO Community Evening in Simpson Bay off to a Good Start

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – The first of four Hurricane EXPO Community Evenings, held in Simpson Bay on June 6th, got off to a good start despite rainy weather. The goal of the Hurricane EXPO Community Evenings is to raise the awareness of the public in order to make the necessary preparations before the peak of the Hurricane Season 2019. The Hurricane EXPO Community Evenings are a precursor to the larger Hurricane EXPO 2019 that is scheduled to take place on June 22nd from 10 am to 4 pm on the Clem Labega Square in front of the former Government Administration Building in Philipsburg.

Persons that attended the 1st Hurricane EXPO Community Evening were able to hear presentations from Emergency Support Function (ESF) #7 who spoke about getting prepared in case of an evacuation or going to a shelter, shelter rules, and their responsibilities during an emergency. UNICEF and the Court of Guardianship addressed concerns of child protection and the importance of communication with your children as part of the preparation process. The importance of having valid travel documents in case evacuation becomes a necessity.

The Association of Psychologists and Allied Professionals (APAP) spoke on why it is important for all persons in our community to express their feelings on the impact of the storm and not to wait until the trauma is too much to bare. Meanwhile, the Animal Defenders reminded the audience that while preparing a personal emergency bag, it is important to prepare one for pets. If pets cannot be taken, please don’t leave them on a leash during the passing of a hurricane. It is advised to have pets tagged or microchipped so that if they are lost and found, the shelter can contact the owner.

Insurance provider NAGICO was also present to share pertinent statistical information and lessons learnt since the passing of Hurricane Irma. Special emphasis was placed on persons avoiding being under-insured by updating their policies with new appraisal reports and making sure they are aware of the contents of their policies.

The 2nd Hurricane EXPO Community Evening will be taking place on Wednesday June 12th at the John Larmonie Cultural Center in Philipsburg at 7:30 PM. This meeting will feature two new additions to the presenter’s line up including the National Recovery Program Bureau and the Central Bank of Curacao & Sint Maarten.

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TelEm Group internet service hit by power supply failure Saturday

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) TelEm Group is apologizing to its Internet customers for their loss of internet service over the weekend, after that service was suddenly interrupted.

The interruption occurred late Saturday afternoon from approximately 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm,

while work was being carried out on a new backup power system at the Smitcoms building in Harbour view.

According to TelEm Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Mr. Eldert Louisa, power to Internet Service Provider (ISP) equipment was suddenly cut off after power was unexpectedly lost during more general power upgrade works on the current power system.

“Unfortunately, with the power system going off suddenly the correct procedure and protocols in place to ensure that systems could be brought up right away could not be implemented,” said Mr. Louisa.

He said the systems had to be brought back online more slowly and not once, but twice for the afternoon until all systems were properly re-configured and stable again.

“Ironically a contractor/vendor was assisting in the process of installing a more robust power system to protect against sudden power outage, especially as we are now in the Hurricane season, when this outage happened Saturday,” said Mr. Louisa.

He said despite having all contingencies in place, a failure did however occur that should not have happened. Company technicians and the local vendor carrying out the works Saturday have been asked to present a full report with suggestions of how they can mitigate against other outages of this kind when similar work is carried out in the future.

“I was assured by the contractor/vendor that this would be a routine upgrade that would not affect service, and this turned out not to be the case, so I’m calling for some answers and bringing the vendor’s attention to our loss of business and to the effect on our customers,” said the CTO.

“We are fully aware of how important our internet service is to customers, and we continue to replace equipment that is end of life and put equipment and systems in place to minimize these types of interruption as much as possible to get our customers back online in the shortest possible time,” said Mr. Louisa.

TelEm Group CEO, Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, himself was online with several technicians to find out what was the issue and was informed how the problem was being resolved. “I received quite a few calls from various people in the community who could not get online, but once they were told what was happening, they were very understanding and patiently waited until we were back up again,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

The CEO said a number of persons feared the worse - that the company’s undersea link may have been damaged, leaving them without internet service for many more hours.

“I was able to assure our business and residential customers that the undersea link was not the cause of the problem Saturday, and also assure them that in the event there would be such an incident, we have invested in a secondary backup system that will take over if the current fiber cable becomes damaged,” assures the CEO, Mr. Dupersoy.

Mr. Dupersoy has meantime apologized to TelEm Group Internet customers and the public generally for any inconvenience caused by Saturday’s loss of internet service.

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CELEBRATING THE FIRST-EVER WORLD FOOD SAFETY DAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Inspectorate at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour issued the following statement in connection with the first World Food Safety Day. Food safety is the absence -- or safe, acceptable levels -- of hazards in food that may harm the health of consumers. Food-borne hazards can be microbiological, chemical or physical in nature and are often invisible to the plain eye: bacteria, viruses or pesticide residues are some examples.

Food safety has a critical role in assuring that food stays safe at every stage of the food chain - from production to harvest, processing, storage, distribution, all the way to preparation and consumption.

With an estimated 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually, unsafe food is a threat to human health and economies, disproportionally affecting vulnerable and marginalized people, especially women and children, populations affected by conflict, and migrants. An estimated three million people around the world -- in developed and developing countries -- die every year from food and waterborne disease. Food is the starting point for our energy, our health and our well-being. We often take for granted that it is safe, but in an increasingly complex and interconnected world where food value chains are growing longer, standards and regulations are that much more important in keeping us safe.

 2019 Theme: Food Safety, Everyone’s Business

The theme of this year’s Food Safety theme invites us to recognize that food safety is everyone’s business. The way in which food is produced, stored, handled and consumed affects the safety of our food. Complying with Global food standards, establishing effective regulatory food control systems including emergency preparedness and response. Providing access to clean water, applying good agriculture practices (terrestrial, aquatic, livestock, horticulture), strengthening the use of food safety management systems by food business operators, and building capacities of consumers to make healthy food choices are some ways in which governments, international organizations, scientists, the private sector and civil society work to ensure food safety. 

Food Safety and Sustainable Development Goals

Food safety is key to achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals and World Food Safety Day brings it into the spotlight, to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. Safe food contributes to economic prosperity, boosting agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development.

  • Goal 1— there is no food security without food safety. Ending hunger is about all people having access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
  • Goal 2 — Food safety has a direct impact on people’s health and nutritional intake. Foodborne diseases are preventable.
  • Goal 3 — when countries strengthen their regulatory, scientific and technological capacities to ensure that food is safe and of the expected quality throughout the food chain, they move towards more sustainable patterns of food production and consumption.
  • Goal 4 — a globalized world with annual food exports currently in excess of USD 1.6 trillion and complex food systems demands international cooperation across sectors to ensure food is safe. Food safety is a shared responsibility among governments, food industries, producers and consumers.

Food Safety and the United Nations

Keeping food safe is a complex process that starts on the farm and ends with the consumer. All stages of the food chain, from production, harvest and storage to preparation and consumption, must be considered. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the only international organization overseeing food safety along all aspects of the food chain.

Through a longstanding partnership, FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) support global food safety and protect consumers’ health. FAO generally addresses food safety issues along the food chain during production and processing, while WHO typically oversees relationships with the public health sector. Safeguarding food so that it is safe to eat does not stop with its purchase though. At home, consumers have a part to play in making sure that what they eat remains safe.

Cognizant of the urgent need to raise awareness at all levels and to promote and facilitate actions for global food safety, the General Assembly of the UN decided on December 2018 to designate June 7 as World Food Safety Day.

Why Do We Mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

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