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

All the tools you need, in one place.

Our Stories

Nnedinma, regaining her mojo in Shelter City
Nnedinma tells us how her three-month stay in Tilburg with Shelter City enabled her to re-energize and regain her mojo to continue her work.
Shelter City Tilburg
Alice, on the frontlines of a high-risk profession
At the end of her three-month stay in the Netherlands, Alice wrote a story to share her experience as a journalist in the DRC.
Shelter City The Hague
Alice, en première ligne d’une profession à risque
A la fin de son séjour de trois mois aux Pays – Bas, Alice à écrit un article pour partager son expérience de journaliste en RDC.
Shelter City The Hague
Fabianna, reflecting on her connection with human rights defenders
Fabianna, a former intern at Justice & Peace Netherlands, reflects on her experience accompanying Shelter City guests participating in the initiative in the Netherlands.
Shelter City The Hague
Giving your all for the things you believe in
Wouter Ermens recounts his experience interning in the role of a programme coordinator of Shelter City Nijmegen and supporting a Shelter City guest.
Shelter City Nijmegen
Sheyla: “Freedom is my favourite word”
"I am Sheyla Urdaneta, I am a journalist, and a woman: a double risk in Venezuela, where liberty of expression and press are constricted."
Shelter City Haarlem
Sheyla: “Libertad es mi palabra favorita”
"Soy Sheyla Urdaneta, soy periodista y mujer: un doble riesgo en Venezuela, donde se viola la libertad de expresión y de prensa."
Shelter City Haarlem
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

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