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SAMEN: A Migrant-Centric Approach to Addressing Gender-Based Violence


SAMEN LOGOThe SAMEN (‘Together’ in Dutch) project aims to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) within migrant communities in the Netherlands and facilitate access to healthcare.

Gender-based violence is the umbrella term for any harmful act against a person's will. This violence is often based on socially ascribed differences between gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. There are different forms of SGBV: physical, sexual, psychological, socioeconomic and the denial of resources or services. SAMEN addresses this type of violence in migrant communities in the Netherlands, since migrants are at increased risk of experiencing SGBV before, during and after their journey.

In collaboration with Dokters van de Wereld NL SAMEN is implemented in six Dutch cities: Amsterdam, Arnhem, The Hague, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, and Utrecht.

What does SAMEN do?

  • Teams of trained cultural mediators and medical professionals offer psychosocial support to migrants.
    The psychosocial support takes the form of thematic meetings, individual counselling, and METS (Methodology for the Empowerment of Trauma Survivors) groups, provided by Dokters van de Wereld. Cultural mediators and medical professionals have been trained to open the conversation on SGBV within migrant communities in their native language. Want to know more about the help Dokters van de Wereld offers? For consultation hours or to make an appointment, check this website.
  • Strengthen the healthcare sector through workshops.
    The workshop offer is tailored to the demand of the respective organization. Would you like to know more about how the SAMEN team makes SGBV discussable within migrant communities? Or what SGBV and migration have to do with each other? And would you like to become more aware of the risks within this target group? If so, contact to discuss the possibilities.
  • Promote information exchange and collaboration in the chain around the target group. During SAMEN’s roundtable meetings, we bring organizations together to discuss SGBV in migrant communities within their city. Good collaboration and short lines of communication between different parties enable early signaling and quick referral.
  • Developing information materials.
    These materials focus on the experiences and stories of cultural mediators.
  • Lessons from the field are collected in recommendations report.
    This report is shared with the wider SAMEN network, contributing to a sustainable, holistic, and inclusive approach to SGBV.

Meer weten over SAMEN?

Contact Sanne van ’t Hullenaar (IOM), via
or Dorothee Riepma (Dokters van de Wereld) via

Samen logos 2

More Information?


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30 Oct 2023

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Migrant Ambassador Haifaa Against SGBV


Talking about sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is never easy. Survivors of such traumatic experiences can feel alone in their pain, even though the violence they endured is never their fault. In a new country, far away from friends and family, finding the right support can be even more difficult. Healing becomes a more manageable journey with the support of someone who understands the survivor’s emotions and shares a common language.

This is where the Migrant Ambassadors of the SAMEN project come in. They have a migrant background themselves and strong ties to the healthcare sector, enabling them to support survivors of SGBV on their path towards a brighter future. Their position as cultural mediators allow them to bridge any cultural difference between survivors and healthcare providers in the Netherlands.

Haifaa cultuurmediator SAMENMigrant Ambassador Haifaa

Haifaa is one of the Arabic-speaking Migrant Ambassadors in the SAMEN project, a collaborative effort between the International Organization for Migration and Dokters van de Wereld to combat SGBV. She is a medical doctor and a recognized expert in health policy and management with over twelve years of experience in programme management and humanitarian work. In Haifaa's own words: "My involvement with both international and local organizations in Yemen and the Netherlands has provided me with unique insights into the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. This experience has not only made me a trustworthy advocate but also an approachable ally in my interactions with people."

Zorgcafe 2021 2023Migrant Ambassadors during an open consultation hour of Dokters van de Wereld.

Being originally from Yemen and having migrated to the Netherlands, Haifaa understands what profound impact forced migration can have on someone's physical and mental well-being. She elaborates, "Because of our shared migrant background and cultural sensitivity, cultural mediators like me are more approachable and trustworthy. This position significantly enhances the effectiveness of our support. We grasp the intricacies of reaching out to migrants, offering them unwavering support, actively listening to their experiences, and, most importantly, gaining their trust." To illustrate the effectiveness of her position as a mediator between cultures, Haifaa reflects on a powerful case: "I remember a woman who had fled from Africa to Yemen, carrying the heavy weight of severe trauma, including sexual violence and an unexpected pregnancy. Our team dedicated ourselves wholeheartedly to her, offering a comprehensive support system. We offered psychological assistance, medical care, and legal guidance. To me, this case stands as a testament to the profound impact of our work, illustrating our commitment to providing holistic support to those facing dire circumstances."

The case highlighted by Haifaa illustrates a more significant problem of violence faced by people escaping conflict and war-torn societies. Research from 2015 shows that an estimated 61-80% of women and 25-56% of men who fled from their countries of origin have experienced sexual violence1. The numbers, constrained by limited data and obscured by societal stigma, likely underrepresent the number of actual incidents.

Amidst these destressing statistics and the far-reaching consequences of violence on a person's well-being, Migrant Ambassadors convey a message of hope and connection. Haifaa shares a powerful example: "A woman approached us, disclosing that she had become a victim of human trafficking and sexual violence. With the assistance of our dedicated partners, we were able to provide her with the necessary support throughout her journey toward recovery." Beyond individual support, Haifaa also raises awareness about sexual health. She initiated conversations about topics such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and gender-based violence. "During these discussions, we brought together participants from diverse cultural backgrounds, creating safe spaces for people to share their experiences openly", Haifaa elaborates.

Reflecting on her role in the SAMEN project, Haifaa concludes, “over the past months, SAMEN has undertaken several initiatives that truly embody the power of cooperation and empathy. Together, we are making profound changes in our communities for the better.”

If you've experienced SGBV and would like to discuss it or seek support, please find more information on how to connect with the Migrant Ambassadors and medical professionals of Dokters van de Wereld here.

Haifaa cultuurmediator SAMENHaifaa presented her story during an event as part of the SAMEN project.

1Busch, J.R., Hansen, S.H. & Hougen, H.P, Geographical distribution of torture: An epidemiological study of torture reported by asylum applicants examined at the department of forensic medicine, University of Copenhagen, Torture Journal, 2015, p. 19

24 Oct 2023

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Amy Pope Makes History as First Woman Director General of IOM


Geneva – Amy E. Pope of the United States of America has begun her five-year term as the eleventh Director General (DG) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The first woman to become Director General in IOM’s 72-year history, DG Pope was elected on 15 May 2023 during the Sixth Special Session of the IOM Council in Geneva.

DG Pope’s term began on Sunday, 1 October 2023. She takes over from António Vitorino of Portugal, who had served as IOM Director General since October 2018. DG Pope expressed her sincere gratitude to Mr Vitorino for his stewardship of IOM over the past five years and paid tribute to his commitment to the Organization.

2 Oct 2023

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Technical Support to Sustain a Learning Network and Scale the Labour Market Inclusion of Newcomers in the Netherlands


Technical support to sustain a learning network and scale the labour market inclusion of newcomers in the Netherlands.


LEARN, labour market inclusion of newcomers through work and study


The Commission supports the Netherlands’ efforts to ensure the sustainable inclusion of permit holders on the labour market. Together with IOM, technical support is provided in establishing and building capacity for a learning network, as well as for the setting up and scaling up of effective labour market interventions that are a combination of work and study (work-study programmes).


Permit holders lag in terms of their participation on the Dutch labour market. Closing this gap and including permit holders on the labour market is priority in the European Partnership for Integration (2017) of the European Commission. In the Netherlands, it has been included under Pillar 6 of the Integral Migration Agenda, as well in its related Civic Integration and Labour Market Participation policies.
Support delivered

Throughout 2023, IOM, in close coordination with the Ministry and the Commission, provides content for the meetings of a Learning Network that is to become sustainable and consists of implementers of labour market interventions in the Netherlands (i.e. local and national government, educational institutions, and employers). Towards the end of 2023, moreover, IOM will create a manual to make insights about effective work-study programmes applicable for implementers and formulate evidence-based policy recommendations regarding the creation of favourable conditions in the Netherlands for the setting up and scaling up of work-study programmes.

Results achieved

The project will contribute to a Dutch labour market that is more inclusive to permit holders. As a main result, policy recommendations and an implementation guideline will have been produced in line with EU good practices, and a sustainable learning network will have been set up, assisting key stakeholders in the Netherlands in their efforts to include permit holders on the labour market. This achievement provides a solid basis for future developments, considering the labour market inclusion of permit holders as a process of continuous reform.

This project is funded by the European Union via the Technical Support Instrument and implemented by IOM, in cooperation with the European Commission.

EN Funded by the EU POS

8 Aug 2023

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Diaspora in Action: Twenty Stories from Diaspora Experts


IOM the Netherlands has nearly twenty years of experience implementing various diaspora engagement programmes. These programmes promote development through diaspora engagement.

Connecting Diaspora for Development is the most recent programme in which diaspora members acted as actors for development in their countries of origin. In addition to demonstrating the value of diaspora contributions, the programme also showcased the voice of individual diaspora experts. Each expert has a unique story and experience and underwent personal challenges and achievements. IOM emphasizes the importance of creating a platform for these inspiring stories.

Therefore, IOM the Netherlands has created a success story booklet in collaboration with twenty diaspora experts. The booklet includes a variety of experiences from different perspectives and countries. In addition to the individual stories, the booklet also highlights some of the institutional linkages that were created within the framework of CD4D.

IOM is proud of the achievements of the diaspora experts and wants to thank them for their continuous commitment to CD4D!

You can read and download the booklet here.

20 succes stories Diaspora in Action 1

4 Aug 2023

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Support to Refugees from Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands who want to return to Ukraine currently cannot be supported by IOM.

For return support to Ukraine, please contact the Dutch Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) via

Ukrainian refugees in the Netherlands who want to migrate to another country outside the EU, where entry and long-term residence are guaranteed, can be supported by IOM. You can contact us via 088-7464466 or 070-3181500.

Refugees from Ukraine with a non-Ukrainian nationality (so-called third country nationals) who want to return from the Netherlands to their country of origin can receive support from IOM. You can contact us via 088-7464466 or 070-3181500.

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IOM in the Netherlands Works:

To ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

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Call IOM :
+ 31 88 746 4466 (Voluntary Return)  + 31 88 746 4444 (Family Reunifcation)