Taking responsibility for unaccompanied minors in NL


More than 800 unaccompanied minors (UAM) are living in conditions that aren’t child friendly because the Dutch asylum system is at a breaking point. The massive shortfall in appropriate accommodation has propelled us to take responsibility for 12 UAM in Amsterdam. After three years of housing minors in Greece, this is the first time we’re caring for minors in the Netherlands. 

“The huge lack of capacity means we need to take measures in Holland. At the moment, minors stay too long in refugee centres where they don’t have the safe, healing conditions they have the right to. They’re such a sensitive group they need specialised care and education  – an individual approach based on their specific needs."
~ MOTG unaccompanied minor project lead Martijn van Ommen

MOTG has been operating in refugee camps in Greece since 2015, working to create safer, healing and more dignified environments for the residents inside – including ongoing youth rehabilitation programmes with the Barca Foundation and UNICEF.

In 2019, we have set up three homes for unaccompanied minors in Athens in collaboration with The Home Project. As a result, more than 130 children have had access to a safe environment, as well as; mental health and legal services, support for family unification, assistance with relocation to European Union member states or integration into the Greek host community.

“We put out a call earlier this year, and Movement on the Ground responded. We know their work in Greece and welcome their capacity. We look forward to an impactful and long-term relationship in the Netherlands as it’s very much needed.”
~ Jan Murk, Director NIDOS

As of June 1, we have become a contract partner with NIDOS – the national guardianship institution for unaccompanied and separated children in The Netherlands – taking responsibility for the 13 UAM in Amsterdam. NIDOS shelter director, Jan Murk, says the UAM situation in Holland is “dire” and they have been appealing for assistance. 

“The student hotel community has welcomed these kids with wide-open arms. They’ve gone out of their way to help them integrate, to make them feel safe and secure. And because we have this community-driven group of long-term residents, that sets us apart from other hotels."
~ Charlie MacGregor, CEO and Founder The Student Hotel

In the meantime, we are searching for a permanent housing location to be permitted by the municipality of Amsterdam. Until that happens, The Student Hotel has delivered an emergency solution to temporarily house this group of children in its Amsterdam West location.

The minors are housed in a ‘cluster’ within the hotel, with each child having their own room and access to a private kitchen and living area, as well as spaces for education, activities and sports. The Student Hotel CEO and founder, Charlie MacGregor, believes the hotel’s long-term international guests and their ‘open mindsets’ are a big step toward creating a healing environment for unaccompanied minors. “We see this as a test, but we’d love to do more to play our role in integrating refugees into the Dutch society, especially unaccompanied kids”, MacGregor said.  

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