8.06.2021
Emergency Funding Support for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists

Around the world, human rights defenders and journalists work to protect and defend human rights, often at risk to their own lives and livelihoods. One of the most critical needs is emergency funding to help secure safety, medical treatment, or other similar exigencies in the wake of imminent threats. Many organizations have dedicated “emergency funds” for exactly such situations. This resource is a non-comprehensive roundup of some of the sources available for emergency funds to support human rights defenders and journalists in different parts of the world.

Downloadable Version

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights does not endorse, nor are we affiliated with, the sources listed below. To share additional resources, please contact advocacy@rfkhumanrights.org.

For Human Rights Defenders

AfricanDefenders: Ubuntu Hub Cities Initiative

  • This initiative offers relocation support to at-risk human rights defenders from countries in Africa. 
  • To apply, please fill out the application found here and submit it to hubcities@defenddefenders.org. The application form can be found in English, French, Portuguese, and Arabic.
  • Funding amounts vary.

Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme

  • Offers emergency financial and legal support to human rights defenders at imminent risk due to their work. 
  • To apply, follow the application instructions found here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

DefendDefenders: Protection Support

  • Provides emergency support and long-term support to HRDs in East and Horn of Africa. 
  • To apply, please contact them via one of their phone lines found here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

Derechos Digitales: Rapid Response Fund

  • This funding can be applied on a rapid response only. The funds can be applied to work that has a human rights and technology connection, and can additionally be used for the assistance and rescue of people at risk in qualified cases.
  • To apply, please fill out the online application form found here and questions can be addressed by emailing frr@derechosdigitales.org
  • Funding amounts vary between $5,000 and $8,000 USD.

Digital Defenders Partnership: Incident Emergency Fund

  • Provides emergency support to cases of digital threats or attacks against human rights defenders, journalists, activists, and organisations
  • Please click the link for further eligibility information.
  • Fill out the online application form here.
  • Funds vary up to 10,000 euros.

Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program

  • Provides emergency assistance, advocacy funding, and security support to human rights defenders and civil society organizations under threat or attack due to their work for LGBTI people or communities. Civil society organizations do not have to be officially registered to receive assistance but must be able to document at least six months of activism.
  • Application inquiries should be sent to info@dignitylgbti.org with detailed information describing why emergency assistance is needed. Emergency assistance applications can be submitted in English, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, Kiswahili, Turkish, Farsi, and Spanish. 
  • Funding amounts vary.

Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders: Urgent Grants

  • These grants are designated for HRDs in the South Mediterranean region. 
  • Please see the link for further eligibility qualifications and application instructions. Funding requests must be submitted in English, Arabic, or French.
  • Funding requests may not exceed 5,000 euros.

Forum-Asia (South Asia, South East Asia & Northeast Asia) 

  • For Human Rights Defenders in Asia who need urgent protection.
  • To apply, the HRD applying for assistance should be endorsed by one of FORUM-ASIA’s member/partner organisations. A request for assistance and an information sheet shall be submitted to FORUM-ASIA. More information is found here.
  • Funding can be up to a maximum of $5,000 USD.

Frontline Defenders: Protection Grants

Mobilize Power Fund (Third Wave Fund) 

  • This rapid-response fund supports the leadership of young women of color, trans, gender non-conforming, queer, and intersex youth under 35 in social movements in the United States. It supports legal or bail fees, actions against criminalization and violence, urgent community organizing or direct action, and other unanticipated needs.
  • Eligibility requirements and more information can be found on their website, by emailing programs@thirdwavefund.org, or calling 917-387-1262 extension 108
  • Grant requests can be made for up to 10,000 USD.

OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture

  • OMCT provides material assistance and emergency support to human rights defenders at risk working in the most difficult circumstances, in any region of the world.
  • Applications for an emergency grant can be submitted by any human rights defender or NGO who is facing risks because of their human rights work and in need of urgent support. To apply, use the Application Form available in English, French or Spanish, and send it by email or fax to OMCT International Secretariat, Human Rights Defenders Programme. Email: grants@omct.org; Tel: +41 22 809 49 39; Fax: +41 22 809 49 29

Prisoners of Conscience: Hardship Relief Grant

  • The Hardship Relief Grant provides the funds needed to cover basic necessities for prisoners of conscience.
  • To apply, contact grantsofficer@prisonersofconscience.org. Find eligibility criteria here.
  • Funding amounts vary up to £500 British pounds.

ProtectingDefenders.EU: Practical Support to Defenders at Risk

  • ProtectingDefenders.eu has two forms of support: Emergency Grants and a Temporary Relocation Programme. The emergency grants are designated for HRDs to provide protection to themselves, their family, and their work. The grants aim to support individuals from and who are based all around the world. The Temporary Relocation Programme supports at-risk HRDs to temporarily relocate within their country or abroad in partnership with host entities worldwide. Families of HRDs are also eligible for support and relocation.
  • Find more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

The International Federation for Human Rights: Financial Support

  • The International Federation for Human Rights has three opportunities for financial support: A fund to enhance the protection capacity of local HRD organisations, a fund for HRDs at risk, and a fund for HRDs in Turkey.
  • For further eligibility and information on how to apply, please see the “Financial Support” section and individual fund pages linked here.
  • Funding amounts vary between 5,000 and 8,000 euros.

Urgent Action Fund-Africa: Grants

  • Urgent Action Fund-Africa provides financial support for organizations and strategic interventions that take advantage of opportunities to advance women’s human rights.
  • To apply, fill out the downloadable application form found here. Application forms can be downloaded in English, Swahili, French, Portuguese, and Arabic. 
  • Funding amounts vary.

Urgent Action Fund-Asia & Pacific: Rapid Response Grants

  • UAF has multiple grants that HRDs can apply for, their Security and Well-being Grant is designated to women and non-binary HRDs and organisations in Asia and the Pacific in order to respond to their immediate or time-urgent needs for security and well-being.
  • Click here for further eligibility qualifications and to fill out the online application.
  • Funding amounts vary.

Urgent Action Fund-Latin America: Rapid Response Supports 

  • Provides emergency and opportunity grants to support and protect the diversity of women and LBTI+ activists and their organizations, in defense of Human Rights, territory, and nature.
  • Founding amounts vary.

Urgent Action Fund (UAF) for Women’s Human Rights: Security Rapid Response Grant

  • This fund is designated to support the safety and security of women or trans human rights defenders, activists, organizations that are threatened as a result of their human rights work. 
  • UAF accepts applications for support from countries in Canada, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Russia, the South Caucasus, Turkey, United States, and Western Europe. Please see further eligibility requirements here.
  • UAF’s grants do not exceed $8,000 USD. The final grant amount awarded is determined by the UAF staff.
  • To apply, fill out the application form linked here.
For Journalists

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Journalists in Distress Fund

  • This fund provides humanitarian assistance to journalists around the world whose lives and well-being are threatened because of their work.
  • To apply, download the application form found here. Applications are only accepted in English.
  • Funding amounts typically range from $500 to $1,500 CAD.

Free Press Unlimited: Reporters Response Emergency Fund

  • This fund provides emergency assistance for reporters.
  • To apply, fill out this form online. Please contact reportersrespond@freepressunlimited.org with any application questions. The application can be completed in English, French, Spanish, and Portugese.
  • Funding amounts vary.

Free Press Unlimited: Reporters Respond - Emergency Funding for the Media

International Media Support: The Safety Fund

  • The Safety Fund provides immediate support for journalists who are victimised as a direct result of their journalistic work.
  • To apply, please email or call the International Media Support direct contact through the information available here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

La Maison des Journalistes

  • The Maison des journalistes is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting journalists who have been forced to flee their countries because of persecution relating to their line of work. A physical refuge located in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, the Maison des journalists offers these courageous journalists a temporary home and the help they need to rebuild their lives. The journalists are housed free of charge for a period of six months. The organization provides administrative, legal, and social assistance. 
  • How to Apply: The application form is available on the website in French and English.

Media Defence

  • The London-based Media Defence offers help to journalists—including citizen journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, photojournalists, cartoonists or fact-checkers—and news outlets under legal threat due to their reporting.
  • To apply for support, please contact sophie.gougeon@mediadefence.org and emmanuel.vargas@mediadefence.org.

National Geographic: COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists

  • This fund is designated for those at high risk or who have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Priority communities include: indigenous communities, immigrant or refugee communities, underserved, urban, rural, elderly populations, and children. 
  • To apply, click the link and press the “apply now” button. Create an account and fill out the required application form.
  • Funds range from $1,000-8,000 USD.

PEN America’s Writers Emergency Fund

  • This fund provides emergency financial crisis support fund.
  • To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that this one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation. Please see this link for further eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply.

Rory Peck Trust

  • The General Assistance Fund grants are meant to help professional freelance journalists (and/or their family) who are facing a crisis directly related to their work.
    • To apply, fill out this form.
    • Funds are designated based on an assessment of individual circumstances and needs.
  • Additional Grants:
    • The Rory Peck Trust Legal Fund helps professional freelance journalists cover the costs and fees related to legal action taken against them because of their reporting. To apply, fill out this form.
    • The Rory Peck Trust Covid-19 Hardship Fund provides practical and financial support to active freelance news journalists whose work and livelihoods have been directly affected by coronavirus. Find the eligibility criteria and the allocation form here.

The Committee to Protect Journalists: Gene Roberts Fund for Emergency Assistance

  • This emergency assistance is for journalists at risk.
  • To apply, contact the Committee to Protect Journalists at emergencies@cpj.org to provide information about your circumstances and the reasons for funding assistance. To report a press freedom violation please contact the appropriate regional CPJ staff here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

The International Federation of Journalists: Safety Fund

  • For journalists facing violence, persecution and threat or needing medical treatment.
  • To apply, please fill out the downloadable application form found on the right side of the link’s webpage under the “How to apply for a grant” section.
  • Funding amounts vary.
Generally Available Emergency Funding

CSO Lifeline (Freedom House): Emergency Assistance and Thematic Programs

  • For journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists and organizations, religious freedom advocates, and LGBTI activists.
  • To apply please contact info@csolifeline.org to inquire about submitting an application for assistance.
  • Funding amounts vary.
Less Time-Sensitive Funding

Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York Protective Fellowship Scheme

  • This protective fellowship scheme for human rights defenders at risk allows up to ten defenders per year to join the Centre for the purposes of training, networking, and rest from a difficult working environment. Human rights defenders are invited to come to York for periods ranging from three to six months. The focus of the scheme is on defenders who face risk in their working environment and have a need for human rights training that the Centre can provide. 
  • For eligibility criteria, an overview, and nomination forms, contact sanna.eriksson@york.ac.uk.

The Fund for Global Human Rights

  • The Fund for Global Human Rights offers grants to assist in protecting human rights activists under threat. 
  • To apply, please email info@globalhumanrights.org for further information.
  • Funding amounts vary.

The Institute of International Education: Scholar Rescue Fund

  • The Scholar Rescue Fund arranges and funds fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide. These year-long fellowships of $25,000 USD support temporary academic positions at institutions of higher learning anywhere in the world where IIE-SRF fellows can continue their work in safety.
  • Information on this fund can be found in English, Arabic, Persian, French, Spanish, and Turkish.
  • Find eligibility criteria here.
  • To apply, follow the instructions linked here.

Ireland: Humanitarian Visa Scheme

  • The aim of Ireland’s scheme is to provide a fast-track approach to processing applications to facilitate recognized HRDs to travel to Ireland for short stays (three months maximum) for the purpose of respite, and because of temporary safety issues. 
  • An application must be submitted through the Irish Embassy or consular representation in the applicant’s country of usual residence. If there is no representation in the country concerned, the application should be made to the appropriate representation in a neighbouring country. 
    • Exceptionally, the application can be made directly to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin (via the Human rights Unit). Condition: Support from Front Line Defenders or an equivalent organization in the form of letters or other documentation

The Netherlands: Shelter City Initiative

  • This national initiative is implemented by Justitia et Pax (Justice and Peace), a Dutch NGO. It allows human rights defenders who are being severely threatened because of their work to apply for a three-month temporary shelter in one of the six Dutch Shelter Cities: Amsterdam, The Hague, Middelburg, Maastricht, Nijmegen and Utrecht. Shelter City provides temporary safe and inspiring spaces for human rights defenders at risk where they re-energise, receive tailor-made support and engage with allies. 
  • To be eligible, defenders must speak English or French and be willing to speak out in public. Find more information here.
  • The program covers travel and visa costs, as well as health insurance and the cost of the three-month stay. It also offers capacity-building activities, medical care, and psychological care. 

Reporters Without Borders: Assistance

  • Reporters Without Borders provides non-emergency funding support to individuals and media outlets/NGOS. The individual support provides financial and administrative assistance to professional journalists and citizen-journalists who have been the victims of reprisals because of their reporting. The media outlets and NGOs assistance is intended to help them maintain or restore operational capacity in the event of problems (such as attacks, ransacking and vandalism).
  • To apply for the individual support, follow the instructions listed here. To apply for the media outlet or NGO financial support, follow the instructions listed here.
  • Funding amounts vary.

Scholars at Risk

  • Provides assistance to threatened scholars who are seeking short-term positions of refuge or assistance in resuming their academic careers. They are most successful in finding temporary research-based and teaching positions for threatened scholars with Ph.D. degrees and significant teaching and/or research experience at a higher education institution.
  • Scholars at Risk is not an emergency assistance organization, and they are not able to offer immediate placement or relocation assistance.
  • To apply, fill out their online application form, email apply.scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu or contact their office by phone at +1 212-998-2179.