Netherlands gets third Shelter City for human rights defenders

After The Hague and Middelburg, Nijmegen is now the third Dutch city to offer a haven to human rights defenders. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans has welcomed its participation in the Shelter City project. 'This project gives human rights defenders 3 months' breathing space to enable them to work more effectively in the future. It's terrific that Nijmegen wants to contribute,' he said.

A Shelter City gives 1 or more human rights defenders the chance to stay in the Netherlands for 3 months so that they can widen their network and receive training. They also often contribute to public discussion by organising meetings and debates.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is donating € 500,000 from the Human Rights Fund to support the project over the next 3 years. Donations will also be made by the participating municipalities and the NGO Justitia et Pax.

Mr Timmermans considers it important to enable human rights defenders to take an occasional break. 'They are determined individuals making a difference worldwide,' he said. 'But improving human rights is a long-term commitment. After a break, they can continue their vital work with new energy, ideas and experience.'

In 2013, the Netherlands hosted 4 human rights defenders. This year, there have so far been 3. The project is being expanded to make it possible soon to host 10 human rights defenders per year. Nijmegen is doing its part to make this possible.