Symposium 'The power of refugees'

Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix and Fatimazhra Belhirch

For 75 years, the UAF Foundation for Refugee Students has been committed to empowering people who have fled to the Netherlands to be themselves again, to develop further to become their best selves and to start a new and sustainable life. to build.


75 years ago, in 1948, Czech and Hungarian students fled to the Netherlands to escape the communist regime. More than 2000 scientists and students gathered at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht to protest against what happened there. Then there was a call for a national organization that could support these students. To find here what they had lost at home: the freedom to be yourself and a dignified existence.

On June 12, we reflected on our 75th anniversary during the symposium 'The Power of Refugees'.

The UAF helps refugees to find a life of freedom in the middle of our society. This is only possible if we give refugees opportunities and see what the power of refugees is.

Flee from Kosovo

That is why we focused on a compelling story during the symposium from UAF colleague Teuta Curri, who talked about her flight from Kosovo that ultimately led to her job at the UAF.

Robbert Dijkgraaf's inspiring keynote speech indicated how important it is to give refugee scientists and students a safe haven, especially now that academic freedom is increasingly threatened. Rachel Streefland shared how constructive steps are being taken in the Municipality of Utrecht to allow newcomers to participate more quickly. And Anton Pijpers as host emphasized how important education is and the close ties that the UAF has had with the University for years.

Let refugees participate

There was also a panel in which the discussion was held about how we can now do more in the Netherlands to help refugees participate more quickly and empower them. The outcome was that a number of things could really be different; for example, dropping the much-discussed 24-week requirement. But also the call for an open mind towards refugees.

Patron of the UAF

It was an honor to have HRH Princess Beatrix, who has been patron of the UAF since 1961 - 62 years - in our midst. On behalf of the UAF, the students, professionals and alumni, the UAF presented her with one of the watercolors of our alumni – artist Ahmad Mallah – as a thank you.

Symposium UAF

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