It is believed that between 10.000 and 25.000 people in Amsterdam live with an irregular migration status. This includes informal workers in restaurants, the care sector, other sectors of the informal economy, and – to a lesser extent – rejected asylum seekers.
It is then no surprise that Amsterdam’s authorities have been feeling for a long time the need to deal with this population. Dutch cities have longstanding experience responding to irregular migrants, often aiming for durable solutions addressing irregularity, homelessness and crime prevention. They do this by providing critical services and improving interactions between migrant communities, authorities, and residents.
Sharing Amsterdam’s experience, therefore, offers valuable lessons for cities still developing their approaches to irregular migrants. But conversely, Amsterdam has also been keen to reflect on their practices through exchanging knowledge with other cities across Europe.
With this in mind, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor Rutger Groot Wassink welcomed the opportunity of hosting a C-MISE international dialogue on 17-18 March to improve mutual city learning among European cities in this challenging area of city governance.
C-MISE and the City of Amsterdam partnered to organise this city dialogue, hosted (online) to present Amsterdam’s initiatives, but also offer other cities the opportunity to present their practices in areas such as safe crime reporting by migrant victims, shelter for irregular migrants; counselling for voluntary returns and regularisations; and initiatives based on the involvement of the local population. With the COVID-19 pandemic enduring, the meeting also offered a chance for cities to exchange knowledge on how to ensure access to healthcare (including vaccinations) for migrants regardless of status.
Given the innovative and impactful nature of the practices discussed in the meeting, we have developed a small briefing to present the main initiatives shared by Amsterdam, Ghent, Lloret de Mar, and Geneva, as well as the important considerations made by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (on responding to migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the representatives of the 17 European cities who joined the conversation.
You can access the brief here.