Human Aid Now has been providing weekly food and other basic needs items to undocumented refugees in Amsterdam since September 2016. Due to the corona pandemic, the demand increased steeply as thousands of undocumented families, who used to sustain themselves through the parallel economy (cleaners, nannies, etc), lost their income from one day to the next. Since March 2020, we have cooperated with several other NGO’s, churches, the Red Cross and citizen initiatives to deliver a weekly food package to 2.800 families (about 10,000 people). As the covid-restrictions are phasing out, since June 2021 the food aid is progressively reduced. Meanwhile, together with the partners forged during the pandemic, we are now exploring which basic needs of the undocumented refugees in Amsterdam still need to be adressed.
Thanks to our contacts with wholesales providers we are able to buy basic food staples and hygiene items in bulk at attractive prices during the covid-restrictions. Each week we bought up to 7 tons of rice, 1 ton of pasta, 3.000 liters of milk, 2.300 liters of oil, 1.840 kg of flour, 1.267 kg of dried beans, 22.000 eggs, 4.500 tins of tomatoes and tomato purée, loads of other fresh and tinned vegetables, semolina, canned tuna and sardines, Maggi bouillon blocks, etc. We also buy 100.000 diapers per month!!!!
We delivered this food to distribution projects close to the communities they are assisting. Volunteers from the community create wholesome nutritious food packages and distribute them to families deprived of their income by the Covid pandemic, who are not entitled to assistance from the regular social services. We also assist the different distribution projects by providing coordination, project management, logistics, volunteers, and administration.
As the covid-restrictions are lifted, some people are becoming self-sufficient once again. Therefore, as we do not want to create unnecessary dependancy, we are phasing the food aid out and expect only a far smaller group will need our help by the end of the year. However, we have discovered some urgent basic needs are structurally not being met for the undocumented and other poorest people in Amsterdam, who for a variety of reasons do not have (sufficient) access to the social safety net. We are exploring what these needs are and what can be done to meet them.
The food project is financed by Dutch charity Funds and the Municipality of Amsterdam. Hygiene items and diapers for the babies have been supplied through private donations. These needs are ongoing for the worst-off families.