“We are here” is the slogan of hundreds of refugees in Amsterdam who were denied the right to stay in the Netherlands. Many of them stayed in the ‘Vluchtgarage’ until April 15th, 2015. The website vluchtverhalen.nl hosts many of these refugees’ stories, as well as the stories of others without any identity documents. These undocumented people wage a battle in the margins of our society. Whom do they associate with, and with whom do they collide? What is their opinion on their daily struggles and on the rights they have within our society?

‘Freeloaders’, ‘asylum seekers’, ‘refugees’, ‘illegal immigrants’: these words are all used to label individuals who have a name, a heritage and a history. Barely anybody knows their stories. In Vluchtverhalen (Fleeing Tales) people without identity documentation tell their life stories, and explain why they left their own country. The shorter Vluchtportretten (Fleeing Portraits) show how people without documents survive in the Netherlands, and what they think, do and experience. The hardships of the Dutch bureaucracy can be difficult to compare to their backgrounds and everyday life in the Netherlands.

This project was started in 2014 by Amnesty International to increase awareness of the lives of people who have no residence permits, who try to survive in the margins of our society without the right to housing, food and clothes. On the Vluchtverhalen website you can find stories, photographs and movies of this group of people.

Political decisions, judicial verdicts, decisions made by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and new developments in their countries of origin constantly interfere with the lives of rejected asylum-seekers, making it harder for them to keep their head up high, both mentally and physically. These are people in familiar places like the Vluchtkerk and the Vluchtgarage, but also people who were not a part of these larger groups. The project collects the stories of their lives, thoughts and experiences. All people made a conscious choice to attach their own name and face to their story, despite the risks they took in doing so. They did this because they want to be known as a human individual in the country they are staying in.

Amnesty International is a worldwide independent movement with 7 million members and supporters in over 150 countries. The organization investigates violations of human rights, supports the defenders of human rights and fights injustice on a global scale.