Being a human rights defender comes with many risks. In times of emergency, a number of organisations are offering emergency grants or other forms of support ranging from relocation to helpline, digital or legal support, and even a phone app. We have listed some of them below. Please keep in mind that this is a non-exhaustive list.

Emergency grants 
Digital support 
Legal support 

Emergency grants delivers the emergency financial and material support to individual HRDs at risk, for physical security, digital security, communications, capacity building in security, secure transportation, legal support, medical support (including psycho-social support and rehabilitation), humanitarian assistance (including family support), urgent relocation and monitoring, reporting and advocacy.

ProtectDefenders is led by a Consortium of twelve NGOs active in the field of human tights (Front line defenders, Reporters without borders, OMCT, FIDH, ESCR-NET, ILGA, Urgent action fund, Protection international, Peace brigades international, EMHRF, FORUM-ASIA, HAHRDP), to whom you can also apply for emergency grants separately (see below).

Front Line Defenders

Front Line Defenders has an established security grant mechanism for HRDs at risk worldwide and, in the event of a crisis, they aim to approve emergency grants within 48 hours. Grants can be used to improve physical security of an organisation or individual, digital security and communication security, to support legal fees for HRDs who are being judicially harassed, to pay for medical fees for HRDs who have been attacked or who have suffered a medical condition as a result of their peaceful human rights activities, to provide family assistance for imprisoned HRDs or family members who are at risk because of a HRD’s activities.

Euro Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF)

EMHRF provides emergency funding to applicants from the South Mediterranean region that can show that an intervention by the EMHRF will help counter threats against individual lives and/or those of members of their family and reinforce the visibility and pursuit of their activities at a strategic timing.

International federation for human rights (FIDH)

FIDH provides emergency material support to at risk human rights defenders working in the most difficult circumstances.

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

OMCT provides material assistance and emergency support to at risk human rights defenders working in the most difficult circumstances, in any region of the world, as well as financial support to strengthen sensitive initiatives.

Defend Defenders (EHAHRDP)

EHAHRDP provides emergency assistance to HRDs in the East and Horn of Africa. Their priority areas include women human rights defenders, human rights defenders working on sexual minorities issues, defenders in zones of armed conflict, and Journalists. Their geographic focus is Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (including Somaliland), Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)

EIDHR provides small grants on an ad-hoc basis to HRDs in need of urgent support. The list of activities is non-exhaustive, what matters is the gravity of the situation, its emergency and the effectiveness of the action in favour of the HRD at risk are the criteria taken into account in assessing and prioritising the cases.

Asian forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

FORUM-ASIA’s ‘Protection Plan’ for HRDs at risk was developed to provide timely and efficient assistance to HRDs at risk in Asia, through temporary relocation and other types of urgent assistance. 
More info for the protection plan: Forum Asia.

Urgent Action Fund (UAF)

UAF’s Rapid Response Grants is provided to women and trans human rights defenders who face immediate threats, as well as for advocacy when unanticipated opportunities emerge to set new legal or policy precedents. UAF’s sister funds, Urgent Action Fund-Africa and Urgent Action Fund-Latin America, also provide grants to women and trans human rights defenders in those regions.

Agir Ensemble Pour Les Droits de l’Homme (AEDH)

AEDH’s emergency fund aims to protect human rights defenders by responding rapidly to calls for help when HRDs are threatened or persecuted. Their assistance includes evacuation aid, relocation assistance, legal assistance, medical aid and intervention with authorities.

More info

Freedom House

Freedom House provides various emergency assistance programs. The Lifeline Embattled Civil Society Organisations Assistance Fund provides small, short-term emergency grants to civil society organisations threatened because of their human rights work. Emergency grants can address security, medical expenses, legal representation, prison visits, trial monitoring, temporary relocation, equipment replacement, and other urgently needed expenses. The Lifeline also provides rapid response advocacy grants to civil society organizations to push back against closures of civic space as they arise. Lifeline advocacy grants are highly flexible, and can support a wide variety of activities, such as community mobilization, policy and legal analysis, civil society coalition building, strategic litigation, awareness raising campaigns, and advocacy capacity building.

Emergency grant

Advocacy grant

Freedom House also provides emergency assistance, security, opportunity, and advocacy rapid response grants (SOAR grants) as well as security assessment and training to human rights defenders and civil society organizations under threat or attack due to their work for LGBTI human rights through the The Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program

  • More info
  • Application: Contact Freedom House or a member organization of the Dignity Consortium working in your region with a concept for any urgent, short-term advocacy or security initiative designed to have significant LGBTI human rights impact.

Helplines Defenders

Defend Defenders (EHAHRDP)

24 hour emergency support line: +256783027611

Digital support

Digital Defenders Partnership

DDP’s ‘Incidental Emergency’ grants provide rapid support to journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs, activists and bloggers who are facing an urgent digital emergency because of their online activities.


CAHR York University 
Shelter city Netherlands 
Shelter City Tanzania 


Gender and Technology Institute in Asia


University of York

The Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders focuses on defenders who work in difficult environments and have a need for human rights training, including research training, that can be provided by the Centre for Applied Human Rights of the University of York. The fellowship lasts for a period of three to six months, and up to 10 HRDs are hosted as visiting fellows every year. Applications for fellowships can only be made via designated nominating organisations: Application.

Oak Institute for Human Rights

The Oak Human Rights Fellowship is designed for one human rights professional who is doing on-the ground work at some level of personal risk. Application.

National Endowment for Democracy

NED’s Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship offers practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world the opportunity to spend five months in residence at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in Washington, D.C., in order to undertake independent research on democracy in a particular country or region. Located within NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, the program provides a rich intellectual setting for educational exchange and professional development. While in residence, fellows reflect on their experiences; engage with counterparts; conduct research and writing; consider best practices and lessons learned; and develop professional relationships within a global network of democracy advocates.

Institute of International Education (IIE)

The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) provides fellowships for professors, researchers, and public intellectuals who face threats to their lives and careers in their home countries. These year-long fellowships support temporary academic positions at institutions of higher learning anywhere in the world where IIE-SRF fellows can continue their work in safety. In most cases, IIE-SRF fellows are eligible to apply for a second and final year of fellowship support.

Legal Support

Media Legal Defence Initiative

Provides legal defence and financial support to journalists, bloggers and independent media across the world facing lawsuits.




Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

RSF provides support to journalists and bloggers in the field by providing various forms of assistance (presentation, individual support, support for exile journalists etc), by providing legal aid, financial assistance and digital and physical safety (insurance, borrowing bulletproof vests and helmets, online survival kit etc). More info.

Natalia Project

More info