Historically, Haarlem has always been a city of shelter. During the First World War, Haarlem offered shelter to over 4000 Belgian people seeking refuge. In 2017, the municipality of Haarlem, Vluchtelingenwerk Haarlem, and debate and culture venue, de Pletterij, welcomed their first human rights defender to Haarlem. Since then, it has continued to provide a safe and welcoming space where everybody can think freely, speak openly, and live peacefully.

Our support

Rest and re-energize

Shelter City Haarlem offers human rights defenders a place to rest and re-energize, away from the danger and intensity that comes with their work. Here, human rights defenders are provided a safe and secure space to focus on their well-being, where they can explore Haarlem’s historic centre and beautiful surrounding landscapes, and care for their health.

Tailored support and capacity-building

During their stay in Shelter City Haarlem, human rights defenders can access the knowledge, tools, and practices needed to strengthen their capacities for when they return. We offer them physical and physiological support, and activities such as language courses, recreation, and more. The support we provide is tailored and adapted to the defenders’ needs to ensure a comfortable stay.

Engage with local allies

We organize events where human rights defenders can connect with a large network of figures in the field of human rights, such as politicians, civil society representatives, academicians, and journalists who reinforce the defenders’ activism, as well as their cause. We also support defenders in raising awareness for their work and the human rights situation in their country.

Our team

Arno Duivestein
Arno Duivestein

Director of de Pletterij and co-coordinator of Shelter City Haarlem


Shelter City Haarlem is supported by a group of 8 volunteers.

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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