MEETING II
The Netherlands - 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 June 2016
8 - 9 June 2016 
 June 9, 2016 - Enschede, Meeting with alifa and the Refugees Dpt. of the City of Enschede
1 Mr. Mohamed El Hamdaoui, general director of Alifa, welcomes his visitors on this nice,
sunny morning in Enschede and explains shortly the aims and works of the organisation.
Alifa is a social work company (not for profit organisation) advising and helping youth,
elderly people and refugees, in short: anybody who needs help. Alifa, existing for more
than ten years by now, collaborates closely with the city and council of Enschede. The
organisation is connected with all kinds of social work in Enschede and also with
medical help, care and sports. The name 'alifa' has no meaning itself, for that matter.
2 Mrs. Inge Stegeman is the Coordinator Asylum and Integration of the City of Enschede. She
was appointed the very moment Enschede city envisaged problems with helping and
supporting refugees when they started to come in numbers.
At the moment there are about 400 refugees who will become a
citizen of Enschede. There has been developed an action plan
 "Feeling at home and participating in the Dutch society" that will
start in September 2016.
The support of the city of Enschede starts right from the moment
the refugees arrive in their shelter (an AZC - Asylum Seekers
Centre) nearby. This immediate taking care by a municipality
instead of the national government is a new approach. Now the
asylum seekers, most of the are from Syria, will begin their
integration in Dutch society as soon as possible. Also there is
regularly an inquiry under the local inhabitants of Enschede (ca.
158.000) about their needs and their feelings towards refugees.
There are about 600 refugees expected next year and there has been protest about housing this
number of people in an area that is still poor and in need of development itself. However the
majority of the inhabitants of Enschede are positive with respect to the coming of these
refugees. Also the number of volunteers (ca. 120 in the first call) to come to help are growing.
Also these refugees will come mainly from Syria. This month a first location of the new AZC
will be opened. Already before the refugees will come to live in Enschede they are invited to
get an introduction to their new life in the Netherlands and in Enschede in particular. Also
offers of employment (especially to the [higher] educated) are now made as soon as possible;
a break with the traditional policy to wait first for the asylum acknowledgement and the
permission to stay before the beginning of real integration.
3 Mr. Dick Turk, senior advisor of Alifa, supports in particular refugees to obtain their official
asylum status. Enschede has a long tradition of welcoming and adopting refugees. Already in
World War I many Belgians have found a temporal or permanent home in Enschede. In the
seventies of the last century refugees have come from South-America, but also from Portugal 
and Spain. Later on also refugees from Vietnam and Turkey (but mainly Syrian Orthodox
people) have found a new home in Enschede. 
The Syrian Orthodox people tend to
have strong family relationships. Also
the new refugees from Syria have
strong family relations with those
from Turkey. That is why they have
a preference to come to live in
 Enschede and join their family that
has come some time before. As well
there is a Syrian Orthodox church in 
Enschede. All this of course helps
tremendously to make the new 
photo: Reinier van Willigen, Tubantia 10-06-2016  refugees welcome and than also 
with the integration of the new Syrian refugees in Dutch society and in Enschede in particular.
Mr. Turk assists in particular refugees to get a permission to stay. One has to prove that one 
is really a refugee. He helps refugees in their contact with their lawyers, but also with solving
(other) problems like health / health care, money issues or family reunion. As a rule getting
a permission to stay is difficult, but nowadays it is somewhat easier for refugees from Syria.
Mr. Turk is also the contact with the IOM - the International Organisation of Migration.
4 Mr. Douwe de Winder, junior staff - mentoring, helps refugees in housing and all other
things concerning daily life. Housing people is problematic and especially in a crowded nation
the Netherlands. Moreover, a lot of administrative procedures have to followed. And to make 
it as even more interesting things differ from place to place.
Refugees are also helped to structure their budget and to adapt their needs to the little amount
of money they will get to get started in their new house. But also the money refugees get for
daily life is limited. However, apart from these concerns there are also other worries like
mental problems. War experiences, being cut off from the family, having lost financial
independency and the proud to be a self supporting person - a person who doesn't need to
ask for help) are problematic factors that don't make life easy, to put it mildly.
Refugees can walk in daily in the Alifa offices to get answers to their questions or help to
solve their problems.
5 The participants from the other member states of the European Union on their turn present in
short and in a private view the situation regarding the welcoming of refugees in their country.
The general opinion is that inhabitants of the respect areas are very willing to welcome
refugees, but that the governing authorities still are in preparation mode.
June 9, 2016 - Enschede, afternoon,

cultural excursions in the city and a visit to the city office of the local newspaper

After an interview and photo session with the local newspaper the PARSOL participants have
made excursions to several parts of Enschede to learn more of the city the way it has been in
the past (as an industrial city, mainly focused on the production of cotton) and how it
developed into its present state when the cotton production industry gradually vanished in the 
sixties of the last century.
When visiting the newly built up neighborhood after the fireworks disaster in 2000 the
PARSOL team also visited the editing office of the local newspaper 'Tubantia / Twentsche
Courant' to exchange further ideas and thoughts.

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PARSOL  - Participation of Refugees into Social Life
Meeting 2 has been in the Netherlands on June 9-10-11, 2016

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