• Inlia-thumb
    INLIA - International Network of Local Initiatives with Asylumseekers
  • Geesje_werkman_in_rood-thumb
    "Vluchtelingen zijn ons als opdracht gegeven" (Geesje Werkman, Kerk in Actie)
  • Mgr_gerard_de_korte-thumb
    "Vluchtelingenangst moet christenen vreemd zijn" (mgr dr Gerard de Korte, bisschop van RK Bisdom 's-Hertogenbosch)
  • Kinderombudsman_marc_dullaert-thumb
    "Het gaat niet om ruimhartigheid maar om rechtvaardigheid" (Kinderombudsman Marc Dullaert over het kinderpardon)
  • Timmermans_frans_min_van_buiza-thumb
    "We hebben onafhankelijke rechters nodig om mensenrechten te bewaken, zelfs wanneer nationale politici daarvan knarsetanden" (Frans Timmermans)
  • Kerk-thumb
    INLIA - partner van kerken
  • Gemeentehuis1-thumb
    INLIA - partner van gemeenten
  • Vluchtelingen3-thumb
    INLIA - partner van vluchtelingen
  • Handen__mensen_-thumb
    INLIA - partner van mensen
  • Volterra2-thumb
    INLIA - hulp aan asielzoekers in nood
English Summary 

Latest news

Today, 20th of June, is World Refugee Day. The UNHCR released its annual Global Trends Report and for the first time in the organisation’s history, worldwide displacement has crossed the 60 million threshold. A total of 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier - that’s 24 people every minute. One in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. 

The Lunteren Ecumenical Conference, ‘Have no Fear’, organised by The World Council of Churches (WCC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) was held on the 14-16 of June. The conference brought together more than sixty representatives of churches, ecumenical organisations, experts and volunteers from all over Europe working with and for refugees, in an attempt to better understand what needs to be done to overcome the challenges we face in assisting displaced persons. John van Tilborg and Jessica Clark were there representing INLIA.

We heard many different voices share their experiences on working with refugees and questions were put forward to help us determine how churches and church-related organisations can significantly step up their participation in the public debate and in the advocacy efforts in the so-called refugee crisis. I say ‘so-called’ because there are many factors contributing to the present situation and the sheer number of displaced people is not the sole reason for this crisis, and therefore, should not be addressed as such by our politicians and by the media.

At the conference, we discussed what challenges the faith community face; what are our fears and how can we find hope. As part of the conference, we visited the Keizersgracht-Kerk in Amsterdam for a commemoration service for those who have lost their lives at the borders of Europe. Hanging above the candles that were lit during the service, a large banner read: ‘Let’s fully welcome refugees’, with a photograph of a Muslim woman wearing an orange hijab next to the text.

This is to remind us that all refugees are welcome, and that churches and church-related organisations have a duty to help ensure that the debate does not revolve around a faceless 'category' of people, but around individual human beings – their stories have to be heard. Our visit to the Keizersgracht-Kerk ended with a wonderful meal prepared by Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees, whom we also had the pleasure of their company for dinner.

In light of the most recent UNHCR figures quoted above, we must ensure churches and church- related groups strengthen their moral right to call on their governments and societies to respect their obligations under European and international human rights treaties. You will find the full conclusions from the Lunteren Ecumenical Conference in the document, “‘Have no Fear’: A Statement”. 


The INLIA Foundation - general information

1 History

The letters INLIA stand for "International Network of Local Initiatives with Asylum Seekers". The organisation was founded in 1988 by representatives of local religious communities who were confronted with the harsh policies with regard to refugees in Europe and felt the need to support and encourage each other on a more permanent basis. They decided to create a 'covenant' of local religious communities that share both concern for the refugee problem and commitment to giving concrete support where necessary. After its place of birth, this text was called the 'Charter of Groningen'. Subsequently, an office was set up in the city of Groningen to coordinate the activities of the members of the network and to provide information and practical support to them.

As its name shows, the INLIA Foundation was originally intended to operate on an international level. For this purpose, there were a number of international INLIA coordinators that were based in several European cities, such as London, Berlin, Geneva, Antwerp, Rome etc. Unfortunately, however, the international component of our work has become increasingly eroded over the years, mainly because we simply do not have enough staff members and resources to coordinate such a large network. Right now, the INLIA Foundation only operates effectively in the Netherlands, although there are still hundreds of faith communities in other European countries that have signed the Charter of Groningen, especially in Germany. 

2 Structure

At the basis of the organisation are about 500 local faith communities that operate within the INLIA network. Much of the practical work that the INLIA Foundation is involved in is carried out by them. Moreover, they provide the INLIA office with the finances it needs to operate effectively.

To make sure that the church-communities participating in the network stay in contact with each other and with the INLIA office in Groningen, we have set up a number of regional structures. Thus, every faith community that works with the INLIA Foundation is invited on a regular basis to take part in a regional meeting (Regioberaad) in which important issues, projects and plans can be discussed with the other faith communities in the region and with representatives of the INLIA office. Naturally, this is also an opportunity to coordinate and streamline activities that need the participation of several faith communities. In addition to this, we organise national gatherings for all the faith communities participating in the network to make plans together and discuss issues that concern the network as a whole.

At the INLIA headquarters in Groningen (the Netherlands), over 30 full-time and part-time paid staff, trainees and volunteers are employed. Chairman of the Board is Mr Jan C.W. Eggink. Director is Mr John W.R. van Tilborg. The director not only manages the organisation, but is also the contact person for the media (local, national as well as international). Mr Van Tilborg regularly appears on national television and can be heard on radio stations to comment on current developments related to refugees. Moreover, he is advisor of the national Council of Churches for all matters concerning asylum and refugee policy, and chairman of the national consulting body of local municipalities concerned with emergency support (Landelijk Overleg van Gemeentebesturen inzake Opvangbeleid, LOGO).

The Bureau of the Foundation is organized in five departments. The first of these is called Church Contacts and Public Relations (Kerkelijke Relaties & Publieksvoorlichting, KRP). Its main tasks are to maintain, intensify and utilise the contacts with the faith communities that have signed the Charter of Groningen and to stimulate other local faith communities to become partners in the alliance. Since it was drawn up in 1987, approximately 200 local faith communities in the Netherlands have formally signed the text of the Charter and some 300 more are associated with the INLIA network and support our work.
The second department, Office and Personnel Management (OPM), is concerned with the day to day running of the INLIA office and the various projects it is involved in. As part of this, it takes care of most of the administrative work of the office.

The third department, Legal and Social Assistance (Juridische en Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning, JMO), gives legal assistance to rejected asylum seekers, conducts research into the situation in the countries asylum seekers come from, and provides social assistance to a number of asylum seekers.

The fourth department, Emergency Accommodation (projectafdeling Gemeentelijke Noodopvang), tries to find accommodation for certain categories of asylum seekers who do not receive any accommodation from the Dutch government.

Recently a fifth department has been added, the Transithouse project (Project Transithuis), which helps undocumented migrants with sustainable resettlement. This project was set up in cooperation with Kerk in Actie and the pastors and chaplains working in prisons and detention centres of the Ministry of Justice.

3 Our work

3.1 Legal Aid
From its start in 1988, the INLIA Foundation has always been active in providing legal aid to asylum seekers in need. The Dutch Refugee Council (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland), the largest, partly state-funded organisation for refugees in the Netherlands, focuses on providing legal aid to asylum seekers during the period of time that they are in an asylum procedure, and on integration in Dutch society after they have received a permanent residence permit. In complement to this, the INLIA Foundation has restricted its legal aid to rejected asylum seekers in need.
Often, asylum seekers who have received a final negative verdict by the judge on their application for asylum, ask us to help them. We then examine their case thoroughly. Sometimes, we come to the conclusion that the decisions that have been taken in a particular case lack sufficient ground, and that, contrary to the assumptions of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and the judge, the asylum seeker concerned cannot return to his country of origin safely. If we come across such a case, we try to get the asylum seeker back into the asylum procedure. This is only possible if there are new facts or circumstances. Sometimes, the asylum seeker can provide new facts or circumstances himself, for example, when he can get hold of new documents that can make his claims more credible. Otherwise, the INLIA Foundation has to find a way of gathering new facts or circumstances. This usually involves conducting research into the situation in the country that the asylum seeker has fled from.

3.2 Research
To uncover the sort of information needed to get rejected asylum seekers back into an asylum procedure, over the past decade the INLIA Foundation has conducted a great deal of research into the situation in the countries that asylum seekers come from.

3.3 Sanctuary
To arrange protection for rejected asylum seekers who were threatened with deportation while further research was being conducted to support their case, the INLIA Foundation has a number of times supported the faith communities participating in the network in providing sanctuary to individual asylum seekers from 1987 till 1996. Sanctuary (kerkasiel) has no place in the Dutch legal system; in that sense it cannot protect people. Giving night shelter to illegals is legal, however, as long as it is reported to the authorities, which is exactly what is always done; the aim of sanctuary never was to hide people from the authorities, but to ask attention for their fate and to reach a solution acceptable to all parties concerned, the authorities included. So far, the INLIA Foundation has assisted in organizing sanctuary for more than 200 persons in the Netherlands only, for all of whom an acceptable solution has been found. The use and effectiveness of the sanctuary instrument over the past decade has led to its being accepted and respected by local and national authorities and in broad layers of Dutch society.

3.4 Providing accommodation for asylum seekers who receive no support from the government
We are currently no longer as active in the areas just mentioned as we used to be. It is already quite some years ago that the last successful Fact Finding Mission took place. At the moment, there are no asylum seekers who are provided with sanctuary by churches to avoid a threat of deportation. Moreover, our legal aid to rejected asylum seekers has been restricted to a minimum. The main reason for this is that a number of shocking new developments in our country have forced us to devote most of our attention to providing shelter to asylum seekers who have been thrown out on the street by our government.
The Dutch government does not give support, with the exception of emergency medical care, to certain categories of asylum seekers staying legally in the Netherlands. As a result, large numbers of asylum seekers have to survive in the street without receiving any financial or social assistance from the government. Elderly people and people who are seriously ill are, unfortunately, not excluded from these extremely harsh policies.
The three most important categories of asylum seekers that have become the victims of these policies are asylum seekers who are rejected in a reception centre through an accelerated asylum procedure, asylum seekers who make a repeated request for asylum and those who have made an application for a residence permit on medical grounds. 

These days, over 50 % of the applications for asylum made in the Netherlands are processed within a few weeks in a reception centre. Within these few weeks an aliens’ court (Vreemdelingenkamer van de Rechtbank) also has reviewed the case. After the asylumcase has been decided for by a court, the asylum seeker can appeal at the highest national court (Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State), but is not entitled to accommodation anymore, nor is he allowed to work. For this reason the asylum seeker is being removed from the centre and put on the streets.

In the Netherlands, everyone whose request for asylum has been rejected has the right to make another request for asylum, as long as there are new facts and circumstances to support it. Unfortunately, the asylum seeker does not receive any government assistance or accommodation if the Immigration service concludes that there are no new facts and circumstances to support a new asylum claim.

Finally, there are many asylum seekers who suffer from serious medical or psychological problems. If these problems need to be treated and cannot be treated in their countries of origin, there is a possibility of obtaining an official postponement of departure on medical grounds. However, an application for a postponement of departure on medical grounds does not give an asylumseeker the right to accommodation or other government assistance.

To make matters worse, asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the Netherlands as long as they do not have a valid residence permit. Thus, it is virtually impossible for an asylum seeker who receives no assistance from the government to survive, if there are no NGO's, friends, acquaintances or fellow countrymen who can support him.
In response to this crisis, the INLIA Foundation has set up regional emergency-accommodation facilities for asylum seekers who have been deprived of government-sponsored accommodation. This is done in cooperation with local authorities (councils), churches and other NGO’s. The initiative has proved to be extremely successful. At the moment, in many Dutch towns there are emergency-accommodation facilities for several categories of asylum seekers who cannot receive accmmodation from the Dutch central government. The facilities are financed by local authorities. In most cases, they are run by a local foundation that is set up by members of local churches and NGO’s, often on the basis of a framework that was developed by the INLIA Foundation. Decisions about who will be accommodated and for how long are taken by the INLIA Foundation.
Broadly speaking, there are three groups of people who can be accommodated in these centres:
I)  Those who are staying legally in the Netherlands because their procedure (for example, a repeated request for asylum or an application on medical grounds) is still in process, but who cannot get any accommodation from the central government.
II)  Those who are working on their repatriation to their country of origin, but who have not yet managed to get the documents required for this (laissez-passer).
III)  Cases where there are very serious humanitarian or medical problems.

We are hoping that eventually the Dutch government will come to realize that it has a responsibility to provide accommodation to these groups of asylum seekers. Together with the local authorities that are cooperating with us in this project, we are working very hard to convince the Dutch government to change its policies in this area.

3.5 Giving assistance to asylumseekers for a sustainable resettlement
INLIA also provides assistance to migrants for a sustainable resettlement. This concerns migrants who do not have a realistic chance to obtain residence in the Netherlands and for whom it is not dangerous (anymore) in their country of origin. 
Migrants often have barriers to return to their country of origin. Sometimes these barriers can be taken away. INLIA tries to take away these barriers in cooperation with the undocumented migrant and NGO’s or churches who have contacts in countries of origin. The purpose is to create a perspective for the migrant in his (or her) country of origin (or if possible a third country). When you are out on the street and your only concern is how to find food, shelter or a doctor, it is hardly possible to concentrate on the preparatory work needed for resettlement. That is why the Transithouse project provides its participants with  accommodation, financial support and the necessary facilities such as telephone and internet connections.
This project is funded by Kerk in Actie (Church in Action, the national diaconal organisation working on behalf of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, PKN)  and made possible with the cooperation of the pastors working in detention centres for refugees, who help select possible candidates for the project before they will be dumped on the streets without any social security, which is what happens to more than 50% of all the detained rejected asylum seekers.

3.6 Working together with other organisations in coalitions
To increase our efficiency and influence, INLIA works together with other specialized organisations on certain issues. In addition to the abovementioned 'Transithuis' project, INLIA also participates in coalitions on topics as homelessness and legal fees (often large sums of money that have to be paid to the authorities when filing a request for a regular residence permit, i.e. non-asylum). The No Child in Detention Coalition (Coalitie Geen Kind in de Cel) of which INLIA is also a member, in January 2014 published a report on children and parents in immigration detention. This report has recently been translated in English, and can be downloaded here. It is called "Dad, have we done something wrong?"

4. Contact & Support

If after reading this information you feel that our Foundation might be able to help, you can contact our office. You can write an e-mail to info@inlia.nl or contact us by telephone +31-50-3138181. English is spoken by practically all our staff members, and several have some command of German or French as well. Our office hours are Mondays from 13.30 till 17.00 hours, and Tuesdays through Fridays from 09.00 till 12.30 and from 13.30 till 17.00 hours. Our telefax number is +31-50-3120412.

For all its activities the INLIA Foundation does not receive any state subsidy. This means that we depend on donations from the local churches belonging to our network and from private individuals. Our Foundation is a registered charity (ANBI) for the Dutch tax law, which means that, under certain conditions, your donation may be deductable from your income tax in the Netherlands. If you would like to support our work and donate a contribution: our IBAN number is NL47INGB0005872815 and the Bank Identifier Code (BIC) is INGBNL2A.