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The Netherlands

  • Total population: 17 million

  • Total population under 18: 3.4 million

  • Children affected by conflict: 7,260 refugee children

  • Number of War Child projects in 2017: Two

  • Number of implementing partner organisations: Three

  • Number of partners providing funding: Six

  • Total child participants: 1,701 (671 girls and 1,030 boys)

  • Total adult participants: 192 facilitators and volunteers (151 women and 41 men)

© Daniel Massain

Why We’re There

The Netherlands has welcomed tens of thousands of asylum seekers since the refugee crisis began in 2015. Some 21,000 refugees are currently being housed in Dutch asylum centres - more than 7,000 of whom are under the age of 18. The majority of these refugees have arrived from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq - and have undertaken long, arduous journeys in search of safety.

Child refugees are the ones who are most exposed to stress triggers during their journeys to safety. They have often witnessed war-related violence both in their countries of origin and during their journeys to safety. Stresses arise that are not always quickly identified - which often develop into acute emotional problems.

The uncertainty these children experience does not end once they arrive in the Netherlands. Children often have to move from shelter to shelter and are separated from friends and teachers - leading to feelings of unhappiness and stress. In addition, children are acutely affected by the anxiety their parents experience during this process.

What We Do

War Child is part of the TeamUp coalition, which was formed to meet the urgent needs of refugee children in the Netherlands. TeamUp was launched in 2016 as a collaboration between War Child, Save the Children and UNICEF Netherlands. The project was designed to meet the urgent needs of refugee children who have arrived in the Netherlands - in particular their social and emotional needs.

Our Projects

  • 1 Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), February
  • 2 Footnote for year reference Annual report 2016
  • 3 Footnote for year reference


provides children in asylum centres aged between six and eighteen with structured recreational activities, such as sports, games and movement activities. Each activity has a certain goal based on emotional themes and specific behavioural skills. These activities help provide children with emotional support and a much-needed sense of stability.

These activities:

  • Provide stability and structure to allow children to live as children once again

  • Support children to build the resilience to deal with sources of stress such as bullying, anger and fear

  • Reduce the likelihood of children developing long-term psychosocial issues

  • Ensure that children who need dedicated social-emotional support are identified and referred to the proper authorities.

The structured activities for children in shelters are implemented by trained volunteer facilitators. A robust system for volunteer recruitment, training and guidance is in place - which sees our facilitators trained to identify specific signs of stress the children may display.

2017 saw 1,641 children participate in more than 660 TeamUp sessions at 20 asylum centres. In addition, 56 children were referred to relevant authorities for children displaying signs of significant stress.

2018 will see TeamUp expand to 32 locations in the Netherlands. In addition, the international roll-out of the project will begin in Uganda and South Sudan. We are also exploring possibilities in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Team Up in School:

2017 also saw the launch of TeamUp in School - a pilot in seven Dutch schools which sees the project methodology applied to support newcomers to primary education. This pilot will be extended in 2018.