The Netherlands

Facts and figures

  • Number of War Child projects in 2019: One
  • Total child participants: 4.344
  • Number of local partner organisations: Four

National Situation

The Netherlands has welcomed tens of thousands of asylum seekers since the refugee crisis began in 2015. More than 25,000 refugees are currently living in Dutch asylum centres - some 7,000 of them under the age of 18.

The majority of these refugees have arrived from Syria, Iran, Eritrea and Yemen - and have undertaken long and difficult journeys in search of safety. They have been exposed to the effects of conflict-related violence and witnessed terrible things.

Situation of Children

Children are the ones who are most exposed to stress during their journeys to safety. Not all of their needs are addressed during the asylum process - particularly their social and emotional needs. Which is why War Child has partnered with Save the Children and UNICEF Netherlands to meet these needs - through the TeamUp programme.

War Child TeamUp voor gevluchte kinderen in Nederland

Trained volunteers organize sports and play activities for refugee children in the Netherlands

Photo: Julie Hrudova

“The best part is that we ourselves are asked what we like to play... That makes me happy."
Evi from Syria

What We Do

TeamUp was launched in 2016 to respond to the urgent social and emotional needs of refugee children living in asylum reception centres. The programme - which sees War Child work in partnership with Save the Children and UNICEF Netherlands - is active across the Netherlands and expanding internationally.

The TeamUp programme encompasses recreational activities carried out by trained volunteer facilitators. Each activity has a specific goal related to themes such as dealing with anger and stress. Participants are able to build the resilience they need to deal with sources of stress such as bullying, anger and fear.

These activities work together to strengthen the emotional resilience of the children taking part - providing a sense of stability in a chaotic situation. This all helps to reduce the likelihood of children developing long-term psychosocial issues - and referral mechanisms are in place for children in need of specialist support.

TeamUp is currently active in 25 asylum reception centres across the Netherlands - reaching thousands of children. The TeamUp methodology is also used to support new arrivals in Dutch schools. Activities were launched in 15 schools over the course of 2019 - building on the success of previous years.

Voices of Children

Evi Just Wants to Play

Evi made the dangerous voyage across water from Syria to Europe. She was forced to travel in a small boat with 50 people. “We sat huddled and crammed on the ground," she recalls. "Then we had five days of walking without eating and sleeping.”

Together with her father and eight-year-old sister Evi arrived safely in the Netherlands - but she was forced to leave her mother and two other sisters behind in Syria. ”I do not want to talk about it; I miss Mom,” she says.

“The best part is that we ourselves are asked what we like to play... That makes me happy."
Evi from Syria

Evi now lives in an asylum reception centre. There she participates in the weekly TeamUp activities. Full of excitement she asks: “Today is Tuesday, right? Then it's playtime!” The various activities - including sports, games and dance - ensure that the children interact more and make new friends. Evi is proud that she has “at least twenty” girlfriends in the centre. TeamUp provides Evi with stability and a means to process her distressing experiences.

“The best part is that we ourselves are asked what we like to play... That makes me happy.”