Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders advocate for the realization and protection of one or more human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as equal treatment, freedom of speech or access to education. Sometimes they address human rights violations against a specific group, for example children, women or LGBTIQ+ people. Many human rights defenders experience heavy resistance on their path to change. Because of their efforts, they face harassment, slander or even physical violence.

What we offer for human rights defenders at risk

What does Shelter City do?

Shelter City provides human rights defenders at risk a temporary place for three months where they are safe, can rely on solidarity and receive support tailored to their needs. We enable them to re-energize, engage with allies and develop their skills, knowledge and resilience.

Why does Shelter City support human rights defenders at risk?

Everyone should be able to safely contribute to a better world. When human rights defenders are nevertheless being threatened because of their efforts, they must be able to count on global solidarity. With our support, we aim to enable them to continue their work with renewed energy and in a more safe and effective way. Moreover, in our vision, supporting local change-makers is the most powerful and straight way to contribute to local change.



  • Safe space for three months
  • A space to rest and re-energize
  • Tailormade support
  • Security training
  • Wellbeing activities
  • Skills and knowledge development
  • The opportunity to network with allies

We are human rights defenders

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to human rights defenders. They encompass a range of spaces and advocate for different categories of human rights and causes, whether as an individual or collectively.

"I was feeling exhausted - the work was getting too much. My time in Shelter City was a relief to me and allowed me to come back fresh."

LGBTIQ+ activist from Uganda

"During Shelter City, I was treated with respect and dignity for the first time ever in my life. I learned what real human rights are, human rights as a lifestyle. I gained knowledge and power and am now passing it on."

Dalit rights activist from India

"I have gained new energy and am now better prepared. Shelter City has shown me that it is better to be silent for a while, than to have to keep silent forever."

Indigenous rights defender from Nicaragua

"I felt the need to rest. In our country, that is not an option. Participating in Tai Chi, the medical care and the support of the team has helped me a lot. For me, the work that Shelter City does is very valuable."

Environmental and indigenous rights defender from Honduras

"You gave me my motivation back, made me feel important again as a human rights defender."

Journalist from Honduras

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For human rights defenders

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Our Stories

Zabib, balancing motherhood and activism in South Sudan
"Being an activist shouldn’t stop women from having children, and having children shouldn’t stop women from their activist work. Let’s not give up."
Shelter City Rotterdam
Félix, shedding light on the harsh reality in Mexico, despite the dangers
Learn more about Félix, a Mexican photojournalist and a human rights defender.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Jhon León: defensores de los derechos humanos unidos por Shelter City para cambiar el mundo
Jhon es un defensor de derechos humanos colombiano. Aquí reflexiona sobre cómo Shelter City ha impactado, de manera positiva, su vida y trabajo.
Shelter City The Hague
Jhon León: Shelter City unites human rights defenders to change the world
John is a Colombian human rights defender. Here he reflects on how Shelter City has positively impacted his life and his work.
Shelter City The Hague
Raúl, creating safe spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community
Read about Mexican LGBTIQ+ defender Raul and his work to provide shelter to LGBTIQ+ persons.
Shelter City Utrecht
Wiecza, fighting for a better future for Venezuela
Learn more about Wiecza, a Venezuelan lawyer and human rights defender.
Shelter City Eindhoven
Numan, fighting for LGBTIQ+ rights in Malaysia
Learn more about Numan and his work to support the LGBTIQ+ community in Malaysia.
Shelter City Amsterdam
Manjula Pradeep, the inspiring activist behind Shelter City
Manjula Pradeep is an Indian human rights defenders and the inspiration behind Shelter City.
Shelter City Europe

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