Shelter Cities in the Netherlands welcome 11 human rights defenders in March 2020

The Shelter City initiative, coordinated by Justice and Peace Netherlands in collaboration with 12 municipalities and local organisations, will welcome a new group of human rights defenders (HRDs) in March 2020. The 11 HRDs participating in the programme will travel to the Netherlands from Burundi, Colombia, DRC, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Russia, Uganda and Venezuela for a three-month stay.

This group of participants focuses on a wide spectrum of human rights issues including defending the rights of LGBT communities, environmental protection, access to justice, women’s rights, children’s rights, the right to education and academic freedom, freedom of expression, rights of refugees and victims of armed conflict, and also the protection of minority rights.

Rest and respite, necessary support and security training

The Shelter City programme offers human rights defenders a chance to take a break, escape a potentially threatening situation, get much needed rest and respite, the opportunity to re-energise and re-strategise, and strengthen their skills in holistic security so that they can continue their work safely and effectively, while also connecting with other fellow HRDs.

As a tailor-made programme, what the HRDs hope to gain from their stay in the Netherlands varies and has been assessed on a case-by-case basis. A few goals expressed by our incoming HRDs include raising awareness about the gravity of human rights violations they experience in their home country, building a strong network of contacts with NGOs and individuals engaged in their field of work, creating fundraising for their organisations/causes, taking the time to rest and clear their mind, gaining new skills in security, and learning new strategies for advocacy and fundraising.

Shelter City is much more than just temporary relocation. An important aspect is the holistic security training that the programme offers. During their stay, the human rights defenders will come together in The Hague at the office of Justice & Peace to receive training in digital security, security management, and advocacy training by expert security trainers. The programme also strongly supports the importance of wellbeing and self care. Read more about the topic of wellbeing in our programme here. 

Shelter Cities in the Netherlands and Justice & Peace look forward to welcoming these human rights defenders very soon. In solidarity with all human rights defenders.

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