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Drugs and former unaccompanied foreign minors and refugees

A significant proportion of foreign minors and refugees entering the Netherlands disappear from the picture after their 18th birthday. Between January 2014 and August 2019, 8,775 unaccompanied foreign minors (AMVs) applied for asylum in the Netherlands. More than 1,000 of these young people have since left ‘with unknown destination’.

foto: Mona van den Berg

Some lose their residence status and become homeless. These include young people from so-called “safe countries” such as Morocco and Algeria. But Syria, Eritrea and Iraq are also common countries of origin. Regularly, these highly vulnerable young people come into contact with drug use and trafficking.

Staff at shelters or support centres for undocumented migrants do not know how to deal with ex-AMV youth who use drugs or roll into drug crime. In addition, a large proportion of young people are completely out of sight of authorities. They are hard to reach and distrust authorities. Mainline’s fieldwork team, specialised in reaching complex target groups, wants to gradually build contact with the group of ex-AMVs, in order to get a better picture of this group and provide direct and indirect support where possible.


For Mainline, it is of fundamental importance that young people who use drugs in problematic ways have access to good care and harm-reduction interventions. This also applies to young people with no or uncertain right of residence in The Netherlands. This group is vulnerable to exploitation and runs high risks of increasingly escalating drug use because they often have no fixed place to live and/or a very limited support network. Moreover, they regularly have underlying psychiatric problems.

For more information on the project, please contact project manager Ingrid Bakker.

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Get in contact with Ingrid Bakker

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