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

Clasien, part of a global movement of human rights defenders
Clasien shares with us her experience coordinating Shelter City Tilburg and what it means to her to work with human rights defenders.
Shelter City Tilburg
Olga, resilient in her journey for justice
During her three-month stay in The Hague, Olga penned a story to share her personal journey as a human rights defender in Venezuela.
Shelter City The Hague
Olga, preseverante en su búsqueda de justicia
Durante su estancia de tres meses en La Haya, Olga escribió un relato para compartir su trayectoria personal como defensora de los derechos humanos en Venezuela.
Shelter City The Hague
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

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