Our international projects

 

Read this article in Dutch

Read in Dutch

The Dutch Council for Refugees works for the protection and integration of asylum seekers and refugees - in the Netherlands, but also beyond - through advocacy, legal cooperation and support to local NGOs in and around Europe.

Support for refugees in Greece

The Dutch Council for Refugees calls for a direct approach to the degrading situation of refugees on the Greek islands. The threat of the corona virus asks for direct action. We support the local partner organization the Greek Council for Refugees. We believe it is important that asylum seekers can apply for asylum under healthy conditions and receive independent information and assistance, just like in the Netherlands. What can we do now?

Help and make a direct donation >>

 refugees in tentsThe internal and external borders of the EU

The international projects of the Dutch Council for Refugees focus mainly on strengthening local partner organisations in countries at the internal and external borders of the European Union. Many asylum seekers and refugees are forced to make perilous journeys to reach Europe. But once there, the hardship it is not over yet. In some Eastern and Southern European countries reception conditions are poor, and access to protection and legal assistance are hard to get by, let alone livelihoods, integration or other sustainable solutions. In some of these countries asylum seekers find themselves locked up in detention centers for months or even years, or they have to survive on the street.

Refugee camps can be overcrowded and the conditions dramatic. People may live in tents, make-shift shelters or poorly equipped containers, and are forced to live in poor health conditions. Due to overburdened or malfunctioning asylum systems, refugees and asylum seekers do not always have access to a fair asylum procedure, and can risk being send back to a neighboring country that they crossed; sometimes with physical violence.

Empowering local organisations

To improving the situation for refugees and asylum seekers in and around Europe, we support a number of local organizations to enhance their capacity. We are currently working on projects with locals NGOs in Greece, the Western Balkans, Curaçao and Hungary.

We are also involved in pan-European projects to exchange knowledge and experience with organisations across Europe. Currently we are working on a project with refugee-led organizations on a toolkit to empower refugees in their advocacy.

All our international projects focus on strengthening and empowering local organisation, be it through training, knowledge exchange or co-financing of projects . Most of our partners are also affiliated with the European umbrella organization ECRE. Our international projects are financed by donors, such as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU, the National Postcode Lottery, as well as private donors.

Some of our results in 2019:

  • We work together with local partner organizations in the Balkans, Greece, Hungary and Curaçao. We organized 20 training courses and work visits, shared knowledge and developed projects together.
  • We further supported the development of the Balkan Refugee and Migration Council (BRMC) – a collaboration between human rights organizations in the region.
  • We supported the creation of a new organization on Curaçao - Human Rights Defense Curaçao – to improve the protection of Venezuelan refugees there.
  • We continued to demand attention and solutions to the dire situation for refugees in Greece. On the Greek islands of Samos and Chios, the Greek Council for Refugees assisted more than 475 refugees with legal advice. Some of these vulnerable refugees were granted an asylum status and were able to settle on the mainland.
  • As part of the pan-European SHARE-project on resettlement in Europe, we contributed to creating more support for resettlement across Europa and better cooperation between municipalities and the Dutch Council for Refugees in the reception and integration of resettled refugees in the Netherlands.
  • We supported the first European Summit of Refugees and Migrants.
  • Organized a project and work visit with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, to assist with their renewed communication and lobby strategy to improve the conditions for refugees and refugee assisting organizations in Hungary.

Dowload the brochure about the international programme here

  • Greece

    In Greece, we support the work of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR). Our current project runs from 2018 – 2020 and aims to improve the situation for refugees on the Greek islands, to strengthen the commitment of volunteers within GCR, and to generate structural funding for GCR's activities. The project is funded by the National Postcode Lottery.

    A video about our work in Greece

    VluchtelingenWerk Internationaal: Greek Council for Refugees

    Hotspots at EU’s external borders

    Refugees are registered in the European hotspots in order to subsequently have access to the Greek asylum procedure or to be relocated to another member-state of the EU. The Dutch Council for Refugees and other refugee organizations in Europe are deeply concerned about the developments in these hotspots from the beginning, as well as the EU-Turkey statement. In order to ensure that refugees have access to their rights, we believe it is important that independent NGOs can enter the hotspots in order to assist refugees there. We help the GCR in providing independent information and support in the legal procedures for asylum seekers, while also supporting them in further developing their volunteer management and fundraising strategies. At the same time, and in collaboration with our partner ECRE, we also aim at influencing government policies in Greece and the EU through research, policy development and lobbying.

    Legal assistance

    During the project, the GCR provides legal aid to asylum seekers on the Greek islands Chios and Samos, with the support of an Athens-based lawyer. GCR’s lawyers provide free legal assistance, through group information sessions and individual case management. Interventions include representation of clients in their asylum and appeal procedures, preparation of legal memos, preparation and participation in the asylum interviews, monitoring and follow-up of cases, and interventions to give people permission to leave the islands, get an indication of vulnerabilty, or get people released out of detention.

    Volunteer management & Fundraising

    The project also aims to strengthen GCR ability to recruit and retain volunteers , by establishing and mainstreaming volunteer recruiting and training procedures. By the end of the project, GCR will have a revamped volunteer management policy.

    Our collaboration also aims to strengthen the fundraising activities of GCR and to diversify the fundraising base of the organization. The project will seek to revise and strengthen GCR's fundraising capacity, based on the knowledge and input of the Dutch Council for Refugees, particularly with regards to private donations and supporters.

    Research

    As part of the project, research has been carried out by the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) on aspects of the asylum procedure in the hotspots and in particular on the role of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO and experts deployed by EASO.

    • Here you will find the ECRE report on the use of EASO in national asylum procedures in Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta.
    • Read more about the work of the Greek Council for Refugees on their website.
  • Curaçao

    Our commitment to Curaçao

    The Dutch Council for Refugees is supporting a local NGO on Curaçao that is committed to improve the situation of, mainly Venezuelan refugees and migrants. They are often detained, without due process and without the opportunity to apply for protection, in inhumane conditions and under the risk of being deported to Venezuela.

    We are also providing trainings and knowledge exchange with local lawyers and employees of a human rights organization on Curaçao, so that they are better equipped to support and advise these refugees. We are involved with the situation in Curaçao, as we consider humane reception and access to a fair asylum procedure to be a joint responsibility of Curaçao and the Netherlands, as members of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

    Detention and deportation

    Curaçao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and thus bound by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Yet, refugees are hardly protected from refoulement on Curaçao, and can barely get access to requesting on the island. Since July 2017, the Curaçao Ministry of Justice has taken over the registration of migrants and refugees from the UNHCR. Due to a new and poorly functioning asylum system, refugees can barely apply for asylum. This leads to Venezuelans, the largest group of refugees on the islands, running the risk of being detained under precarious conditions and being deported without trial.

    Supporting for a Curaçao refugee organization

    The Dutch Council for Refugees has been monitoring the developing of the human rights situation of Venezuelan refugees in the Caribbean since 2018. As of 2019 we have been working with the newly established NGO Human Rights Defense-Curaçao (HRDefense), which is working to support and protect the rights of Venezuelans on Curaçao. Since then a number of Venezuelan refugees have been released from detention and placed in safe locations. But no protection has yet been offered to these individuals.

    The venezuela crisis and Curaçao

    Since 2014, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their country because they fled the economic and political crisis. According to the UNHCR, many of them are in need of international protection, Aruba and Curaçao have recently been receiving relatively high number of people fleeing Venezuala within a relatively short amount of time. According to the UNHCR there are between 5,000 and 15,000 Venezuelans on Curaçao.

    Human Rights Defense Curaçao

    Human Rights Defense (HRDefense) Curaçao is an independent human rights organization that works to protect and support Venezuelan refugees on Curaçao. The Dutch Council for Refugees is supporting the work of HRDefense in various ways, including through: • Legal support and sharing expertise with lawyers and Human Rights Defense employees. • Training for lawyers, local employees and volunteers of HRDefense with regards to public information provision, legal support and organizational development. • Advocacy for refugees on the islands and lobbying with the authorities within the Dutch Kingdom. • Increasing awareness and support among the population of Curaçao for the situation of refugees on the island.

    Citizen's initiative

    Ieteke Witteveen, an anthropologist who has lived on Curaçao for many years, is the founder and director HRDefense. Ieteke: “Together with a number of other concerned citizens, we were actively involved in supporting Venezuelan refugees on our island. We called on the Dutch Council for Refugees to share their knowledge and expertise and to strengthen our local network, and set up an organization. I am very pleased that we were able to start our organisation, and that can help the people who really need our protection. There is a lot of work to be done."

    Our commitment to Curaçao

    The Dutch Council for Refugees is supporting a local NGO on Curaçao that is committed to improve the situation of, mainly Venezuelan refugees and migrants. They are often detained, without due process and without the opportunity to apply for protection, in inhumane conditions and under the risk of being deported to Venezuela.

    We are also providing trainings and knowledge exchange with local lawyers and employees of a human rights organization on Curaçao, so that they are better equipped to support and advise these refugees. We are involved with the situation in Curaçao, as we consider humane reception and access to a fair asylum procedure to be a joint responsibility of Curaçao and the Netherlands, as members of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

    Detention and deportation

    Curaçao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and thus bound by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Yet, refugees are hardly protected from refoulement on Curaçao, and can barely get access to requesting on the island. Since July 2017, the Curaçao Ministry of Justice has taken over the registration of migrants and refugees from the UNHCR. Due to a new and poorly functioning asylum system, refugees can barely apply for asylum. This leads to Venezuelans, the largest group of refugees on the islands, running the risk of being detained under precarious conditions and being deported without trial.

    Supporting for a Curaçao refugee organization

    The Dutch Council for Refugees has been monitoring the developing of the human rights situation of Venezuelan refugees in the Caribbean since 2018. As of 2019 we have been working with the newly established NGO Human Rights Defense-Curaçao (HRDefense), which is working to support and protect the rights of Venezuelans on Curaçao. Since then a number of Venezuelan refugees have been released from detention and placed in safe locations. But no protection has yet been offered to these individuals.

    The venezuela crisis and Curaçao

    Since 2014, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their country because they fled the economic and political crisis. According to the UNHCR, many of them are in need of international protection, Aruba and Curaçao have recently been receiving relatively high number of people fleeing Venezuala within a relatively short amount of time. According to the UNHCR there are between 5,000 and 15,000 Venezuelans on Curaçao.

    Human Rights Defense Curaçao

    Human Rights Defense (HRDefense) Curaçao is an independent human rights organization that works to protect and support Venezuelan refugees on Curaçao. The Dutch Council for Refugees is supporting the work of HRDefense in various ways, including through:

    • Legal support and sharing expertise with lawyers and Human Rights Defense employees.
    • Training for lawyers, local employees and volunteers of HRDefense with regards to public information provision, legal support and organizational development.
    • Advocacy for refugees on the islands and lobbying with the authorities within the Dutch Kingdom.
    • Increasing awareness and support among the population of Curaçao for the situation of refugees on the island.

    Citizen's initiative

    Ieteke Witteveen, an anthropologist who has lived on Curaçao for many years, is the founder and director HRDefense. Ieteke: “Together with a number of other concerned citizens, we were actively involved in supporting Venezuelan refugees on our island. We called on the Dutch Council for Refugees to share their knowledge and expertise and to strengthen our local network, and set up an organization. I am very pleased that we were able to start our organisation, and that can help the people who really need our protection. There is a lot of work to be done."

  • Refugees for Refugees

    What does the Dutch Council for Refugees do?

    The Dutch Council for Refugees considers initiatives in which refugees stand up for themselves and have a say in decision-making that concern them very important. Mohammed Badran, founder of Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands (SYVNL) and co-initiator of the Summit, talks more about it in this article on Politico.eu. Mohammed: 'Only by listening to refugees themselves can the EU hope to adopt policies on integration, migration and asylum that respect human rights and uphold the same European values that you and I share.'

    Training kit for refugee organizations

    Since early 2020, the Dutch Council for Refugees has been participating in an Erasmus + project funded by the Aditus Foundation. The project is aiming at strengthening self-organization and inclusion of refugees by developing a Toolkit. Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands (SYVNL) is our partner and will map refugee organizations in the Netherlands and contribute to the development of the training kit for refugee-led organizations.

  • Western Balkans

    Countries in the Western Balkan

    The Balkan Refugee and Migration Council (BRMC) is a coalition of organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania. The BRMC is committed to protecting migrants and refugees in the region. The DCR supported the founding of BRMC and will continue to work together over the next years to strengthen the coalition.

    What does the Dutch Council for Refugees do?

    The Dutch Council for Refugees entered into a three-year partnership with BRMC at the end of 2018 with the aim to improve the protection of refugees in the region. The BRMC member organizations work together on research, policy and lobby and monitor refugee reception and protections policies and practices in the region.

    The Dutch Council for Refugees helps the coalition building their capacity by exchanging knowledge and providing a series of training courses. The BRMC is led by Grupa 484. The other organizations are: Belgrade Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Civil Rights Program Kosovo (CRP / K), Macedonian Young Lawyers Associations (MYLA), Vaša prava Bosnia and Herzegovina. Read more about border surveillance and return policies and practices in the Balkan region in this first BRMC policy paper.

    The project is funded by the Dutch embassies in the Western Balkan region (2019 - 2022).

  • International projects in the past

    Below a selection of some of our completed projects since 2015:

    (North) Macedonia

    Our partner organization MYLA (Macedonian Young Lawyers Association) has been working hard to expand and strengthen their organization, in order to better represent the interests of refugees in North Macedonia . At the request of MYLA, the Dutch Council for Refugees provided five training courses with the purpose of promoting refugees' collective interests and influencing policies in Macedonia. For example, training courses focused  on communication, lobbying and how to work well with academics as an NGO. The aim was to help MYLA to be able to better  exert influence and to safeguard refugee protection as well as a humane asylum policies in (North) Macedonia. This project was funded by the 'Tailor Made Training Program' of EP-Nuffic: center for internationalization and international cooperation in education.

    Turkey

    The Dutch Council for Refugees has focused on strengthening local civil society organizations in Turkey, through long-term cooperation with Refugee Rights Turkey. The first project was funded by the EU. In this project, the Dutch Council for Refugees and ECRE gave three workshops on integration, reception and Dutch and European asylum policy. In the second project, the Dutch Council for Refugees supported Turkish lawyers' organizations and NGOs by sharing expertise and experience on asylum law and giving advice on mutual coordination. The US Department of State largely financed this second project.

    Montenegro

    The Dutch Council for Refugees collaborated with local partner organization Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) in a project to improve the protection of refugees. The project contributed to strengthening the Montenegrin asylum system and to make it more compliant  with international and EU standards. The Dutch Council for Refugees provided trainings to CEDEM, other Montenegrin refugee assisting organizations and the government. The focus in these traininga was on providing legal assistance to refugees. In addition, a delegation from various Montegrian parties paid a visit to the Netherlands to see how the Dutch asylum system works in practice. The project with CEDEM was funded by the Matra-fund of the Dutch embassy in Serbia.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The Dutch Council for Refugees worked together in a joint project with the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). Our local partner in this project was Vaša Prava BiH. The aim was to increase the capacity of both governmental  and civil society organizations  in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With this project, we also strengthened mutual cooperation within the Bosnian asylum system. The IND and COA trained representatives of the  Bosnian government. The Dutch Council for Refugees trained NGOs on supporting asylum seekers in the asylum procedure and on providing integration support. The project was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and lasted for two years.

    Serbia

    The Dutch Council for Refugees worked together with partner organization Belgrade Center for Human Rights (BCHR) to strengthen the Serbian asylum system. The Dutch Council for Refugees provided training courses in the fields of legal support for refugees and integration. A study visit by the Serbian partner organization to the Netherlands was also part of the project.

    Malta

    The number of local organizations in Malta that support asylum seekers and refugees has grown over the past few years. The different organizations work together in a coalition: the platform of Human Rights Organizations in Malta (PHROM). The various organizations work on different topics, such as advocacy and social services. The Dutch Council for Refugees worked together with the Aditus Foundation and with PHROM in capacity building project. We provided training courses focusing on professionalizing the coalition and ensuring visibility to the public and other stakeholders.

    Italy (hotspots)

    In our first Hotspot project, local field workers from the Greek and Italian partner NGOs mapped out how the hotspots work in practice, and if EU law and guidelines and human rights standards are being followed. The project has led to a critical report with recommendations to European institutions and governments how  to improve the conditions and working methods of the hotspots. Through  extensive research, we have gained more insight into the situation in the hotspots and the (non)implementation of the relocation program. This improved our ability to identify what is needed to improve the protection and support of refugees on the ground. In this project, The Dutch Council for Refugees also focused on sharing its expertise with partner NGOs in working with volunteers to support asylum seekers, so that they can support asylum seekers even better and more efficiently.

    SHARE

    The Dutch Council for Refugees was a partner in the SHARE-Integration project. For this project, co-funded by the European Commission, we worked together with a consortium of 11 different organizations in Europe. The project aimed to empower stakeholders in small municipalities in receiving  resettled refugees. We exchanged knowledge and best practices among the 11 organizations and with various municipalities across the different European countries. In addition, the Dutch Council for Refugees provided various training courses in countries and municipalities where resettlement is still relatively new. In this video you can see how the resettled Syrian refugee Poor feels at home in Zaanstad, partly thanks to the help of a local volunteer from the Dutch Council for Refugees .

    European Summit for Refugees and Migrants

    On 4, 5 and 6 May 2019, more than 60 representatives of refugees and migrant communities from 28 EU Member States met in Brussels for the first 'European Summit of Refugees and Migrants'. They were selected from more than 300 applications. The summit wass an initiative of a number of refugee networks in Europe, including the Global Refugee-Led Network and Diaspora Network Alliance (DNA).

    For two days, the representatives developed policy proposals on topics that affect them, such as improving the European asylum system, faster family reunification and better access to language lessons and education. On the third day, they exchanged views on these proposals with NGOs. The Dutch Council for Refugees was also present. The Summit proposals are now being developed and followed up at national levels by the various organizations that attended. Participant Shieren from Estonia wrote afterwards: 'The Summit opened my eyes and made me stronger. Now I feel like I can do a lot of things that I have in mind, and that I'm not alone, I just have to make the first steps. I also found out how many different people live in Europe and how similar we are in spite of cultural differences.'
    Read more about the summit in this interview on the ECRE website.

Wil je onze nieuwsbrief ontvangen?

Volg ons via: