In the autumn of 2019, Alari (fictitious name) from Ethiopia returned to his country of origin after four years in the Netherlands. In addition to the support he received from IOM, the NGO Amsterdam City Rights was closely involved in his case. They organized crowdfunding to give him extra support for his return and reintegration plan. This consisted of the sale of gemstones and minerals on the one hand, and the start-up of a charity organization aimed at young people on the other.
How did Amsterdam City Rights come about?
"After working for the Worldhouse of the Protestant Diaconate for quite a while, I realized I wanted to be involved differently. I wanted to make myself heard in the migration debate and focus on the rights of undocumented migrants more. This is what I started doing, for example through lobbying in the municipality and organizing meetings with local politicians. At the same time, a 'basic rights' movement for undocumented migrants began in 2017, which included the provision of relevant information. At that time, the idea arose among a number of those involved, including undocumented persons themselves, to join forces. This way, the voice of the undocumented migrant could be better heard."
What is your background?
"I am an artist with a focus on social design. That is a discipline in which you are searching for new types of solutions for social issues."
How do you see your role in this field?
"We are an active group of people with and without papers. As a citizen of Amsterdam with papers, I am in close contact with undocumented citizens. They know exactly where lobbying and help is needed. I can then help with informing the decision makers and advocate for their case. Together we form a network in which everyone has a specialization. In that sense we are all equal. I do not see myself as a social worker. But if needed, I can link migrants to providers of specific support or services. For migrants who are considering return for instance, but also for those who have achieved a status and need some extra guidance during their integration in the Netherlands."