Engage with local allies

Engage with local allies

At Shelter City, we believe in the importance of global solidarity. We ensure that human rights defenders have the support and contacts they require to strengthen their work and continue their local actions for change.

Raising awareness


Human rights defenders are experts of the human rights situations in their home country. By temporarily relocating to Shelter City, they have the opportunity to share this expertise and raise awareness on the issues they work on.

During their stay, we support human rights defenders in hosting events, workshops, and lectures where they can share their experiences in safe spaces. The stakeholders that they may collaborate with include local organizations, universities, cultural centres, and local and national government.

Human rights defenders who have previously relocated to Shelter City have, for instance, given talks to students or policymakers to inform them on the human rights situation in their country and their work.


Building networks


It is vital that human rights defenders have strong networks of allies at the global and local level. Allies can support them, stand by their side and protect them.

During their three-month stay, we support human rights defenders in creating strong and durable relationships with allies. These include fellow activists, supporters, organizations and institutions, and funders with which they can collaborate in their human rights work or who can support their cause.

Each Shelter City welcomes human rights defenders often in the same period. In this way, defenders have the opportunity to meet with and share their experience with like-minded people who may have faced similar challenges, exchange expertise, get inspired, and build a network of solidarity. After they return home, human rights defenders can remain connected with other Shelter City guests, for instance through the Shelter City (Netherlands) Alumni Platform.



“I positioned my name in international, European and national spaces. In my opinion, this is also a form of protection. I can reach out to my new partners in case of issues.”

Adil, human rights lawyer from Colombia

“I wanted to participate in Shelter City in order to disconnect, to get rest, but also to get the word out about what’s happening here in Mexico – we need help from outside. While I was in The Netherlands, I went to many places, like Leiden University, talked to people. I was satisfied with that – I put my time to good use. I met people who are important to our struggle.”

Lucia, human rights defender working on enforced disappearances from Mexico

“Shelter City gave me the opportunity to network, meet others, and be in position to talk comfortably about my situation knowing that I am safe. For once in a very long time I was able to share my story outside of my closest family circle. It helped me in so many ways.”

Tai, South Sudanese women's rights defender

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