Dutch Council for Refugees: Who We Are, What We Do
Refugees have a right to a fair asylum procedure, and subsequently access to adequate housing, education, health care and work. The Dutch Council for Refugees defends those rights. And if refugees are allowed to stay in the Netherlands, we help them to rebuild their lives.
Who We Are
The Dutch Council for Refugees is an independent, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1979. With more than 7.000 volunteers and 600 paid employees we offer refugees practical support during their asylum procedure and we help them rebuild their lives in the Netherlands. With one National Office, 14 regional offices, and 310 local branches we are active in 90% of all local council districts. The National Office supports the regional and local branches with advice, education, and information.
What We Do
The Dutch Council for Refugees fights for the rights of refugees in the Netherlands. We assist refugees during their asylum procedure and their integration in the Dutch society and stand for a good asylum and integration policy. We provide members of Parliament with information concerning refugee issues and policy, and have an active lobby for refugee rights. We also give information and advice to asylum lawyers and develop various projects to promote the integration of refugees in the Netherlands. In addition, we are committed to increasing public support for refugees.
The Asylum Procedure
Refugees who arrive in the Netherlands and ask for asylum, have an interview with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). After that, the IND decides whether the refugee has a right to seek protection in the Netherlands and is allowed access to the asylum procedure.
Sometimes the procedure takes a long time before a final decision is taken as to whether or not a person can stay in the Netherlands. In some cases this decision takes years. The uncertainty, the enforced idleness, and the limited contact with society takes a heavy toll on refugees. During this time our volunteers give them personal and legal support.
Furthermore: during the asylum procedure, more than 300 lawyers can count on us for information about countries of origin, sources to substantiate the asylum story, case law history, and (European) legislation.
Refugees are eager to integrate in society. Of course this takes time. Their language skills, labour market participation, and contact with Dutch people improve the longer they are in the Netherlands. Integration requires that the government, local councils, and other parties involved, make a long-term investment in job seeking, language support, and social interaction with Dutch people.
Work is the driving force behind integration and active citizenship. The Dutch Council for Refugees is one of the initiators of the Refugee Job Offensive. This project has proven that, with a dedicated approach, it is possible to bring employers and refugees together.
In order to be able to rebuild their lives, family members that were involuntarily separated need to be reunited again. That's why we help them as much as we can in family reunification and support them financially in this process.
Download the summary of our IntegrationBarometer 2009.
Our International Activities
More and more, decisions in the European Union have influence on the asylum and integration policy in the individual European countries. That is why we also concentrate on the European asylum policy. We are member of ECRE, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, which is the European umbrella organization of NGO's which focus on refugee issues.
We also support refugee organizations in countries on the European borders. We share knowledge, experience and expertise with these organisations. We do this by giving advice, training courses and workshops about such issues as lobbying, collaboration with the government, legal aid, and working with volunteers. Consequently these organisations are able to improve the support given to refugees and asylum seekers in their own countries.
How We Finance Our Work
Grants and subsidies make our work possible. For example, we receive subsidies for our work from the Ministry of Housing, Neighbourhoods, and Integration, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment. The People's Postcode Lottery also contributes funding: in 2009 the Council for Refugees received funding totalling € 10 million from the Postcode Lottery. Furthermore, we also receive financial support from more than 42,000 donors. Together they provide a very appreciated and essential contribution.