Amsterdam sisters, raised in windowless storage space, face deportation

Statue of justice.
Statue of justice.

Two young women who put themselves through school, partly while living in a windowless storage space bordering on Amsterdam’s A10 ring road, face deportation to Morocco because ‘they are not Dutch enough’.

Sisters Sofia and Najoua Sabbar, aged 21 and 24, came to the Netherlands with their mother as a seven and four-year-old and applied for papers in 2019, when both had turned 18, the Parool reported at the weekend.

Their applications were twice rejected by the IND.

Earlier this year, however, judges ruled that the IND was wrong to refuse the girls residency permits, describing them as ‘hard-working, ambitious, fully integrated Dutch women who make a positive contribution to society.’

The IND then appealed against that decision, saying it is not in the interests of the Dutch state to give them the right to live here.

Despite being without papers, and living in 25 different homes, including 10 years in the storage space, the sisters completed school, graduating with a havo and a vwo diploma. They give homework lessons to children who need extra help, Sofia is an ‘ambassador’ for ­Amsterdam Fashion College, has set up a foundation to help rich and poor Amsterdam children meet each other and was named Junior Hero of Amsterdam in 2019.

They even learned about Morocco from a map, so they could answer questions at school about how their summer holidays had been.

The appeal process against the IND decision will take six months to a year to complete, which means the girls will continue to live in limbo. ‘We had perspective, but now it is gone again,’ Najoua told the paper. ‘The appeal means everything is on ice. Again, I can’t sign up to university.’

‘I might be naïve, but I hope that the IND will see that we have earned being Dutch.’

Supporters have set up a petition calling on the IND to rethink.

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