Press

Emergency Funding Support for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists

Around the world, human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists work to protect and defend human rights, often at risk to their own lives and livelihoods. One of their 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 needs.

Please find below a non-comprehensive roundup of some of the resources available for emergency funds to support HRDs and journalists.

(Note: Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights does not specifically endorse, nor is it affiliated with, any of the resources listed below.)

For Journalists

  • Journalists in Distress Network
    • The JiD is a network of media freedom organizations which provide direct assistance to journalists and media workers who are at risk because of their work.

    • The JiD does not offer any grants, but instead provides a list of resources available to journalists and human rights defenders in need of support, many of which are included in this page below. The full list can be found here.

  • 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 typically ranges from $500 to $1,500 CAD.

  • Free Press Unlimited: Reporters Response Emergency Fund
    • This is an emergency assistance fund for reporters.

    • Please contact [email protected] with any application questions.

    • The application can be completed in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    • Funding amounts vary.

  • International Media Support: The Safety Fund
    • The Safety Fund provides immediate support for journalists who are victimized 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.

  • International Women’s Media Foundation: Emergency Funds
    • IWMF has multiple funds that work to support female journalists, journalists in the US, and to assist Black journalists facing financial hardship who are unable to pay for mental health support as a result of Covid-19.

    • To apply, please select the relevant fund via the link, create an account, and fill out the required application form.

    • Funding amounts vary, the Covid-19 Relief Fund for women provides funding up to $2,000 USD.

  • Media Legal Defence Initiative
    • The London-based MLDI 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 [email protected] and [email protected].

    • Funding amounts vary.

  • PEN America’s Writers Emergency Fund
    • 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 the link for further eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply.

    • The fund is limited, and not every application can be supported.

  • Rory Peck Trust
    • The Trust offers two types of grant assistance funds: a Crisis Fund and a Therapy Fund. As of October 2023, both the Crisis Fund and the Therapy Fund are closed.

    • General eligibility for funding but each fund has its own criteria.
      • If you are a professional freelance journalist working in news and current affairs whose only source of income comes from journalism you may be eligible for a grant. You must meet all of the following criteria to apply to any of our funds:
        • You must be a freelance journalist who does not have a regular salary or retainer;

        • You must have been actively working as a freelance journalist for at least the last 12 months;

        • You do not have access to any other financial support or resources, i.e. government support or savings;

        • You are not entitled to any contractual benefits such as sick pay, annual leave, social security or pension, as you are not a permanent staff member of any media organization.

      • *Note that you can only apply to and receive a grant from one Fund.

  • 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 [email protected] 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.

For Human Rights Defenders

  • African Defenders: 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 [email protected]. The application form can be found in English, French, Portuguese, and Arabic.

    • Funding amounts vary.

  • Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
    • As of October 2023, the Emergency Fund is closed until January 2024. Any applications sent will not be reviewed until then.

    • Offers emergency financial and legal support to human rights defenders at imminent risk due to their work.

    • Funding amounts vary.

  • Defend Defenders: Protection Support
    • Provides emergency support and long-term support to HRDs in East and Horn of Africa.

    • To apply, please contact them by completing their secure email form.

    • 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 [email protected].

    • 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 organizations.

    • 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 [email protected] 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 a maximum of USD $5,000.

  • Frontline Defenders: Protection Grants
  • Prisoners of Conscience: Hardship Relief Grant
    • The Hardship Relief Grant provides the funds needed to cover basic necessities for prisoners of conscience.

    • The Bursaries Fund provides funding to assist former prisoners of conscience with tuition fee payments for post-graduate study or professional conversion courses in the UK. The last deadline was 31st May 2023 for course fees due from autumn 2023 onwards. The website does not indicate if this fund will be available in 2024 or not.

    • Grants are also available to prisoners of conscience who have the right to family reunion, to pay for related costs involved in bringing close dependents to join them in the UK. Applicants for this fund are generally asylum seekers or refugees, but eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.

    • To be eligible for the above funds, applicants do not need to be a UK resident and do not need to have been imprisoned to receive support. Prisoners of Conscience support people who have been persecuted for nonviolent acts or expressions of their conscientiously held beliefs, and this persecution can take different forms such as threats, harassment, physical violence, detention, and unjust treatment, among others.

    • To apply, contact the Prisoner of Conscience’s Grants Officer on [email protected].

    • 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 organizations, 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 offers several kinds of grants, two of which are a security and well-being grant for those who need urgent funding to ensure safety from physical or emotional harm and a resourcing resilience grant is for those who seek to prepare for threats, and those who need to respond to a critical issue or opportunity in the next 3-6 months.

    • 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 Grants
    • Security Grants are offered to support the safety and security of activists. Eligibility information and information on how to apply can be found here.

    • Opportunity Grants are offered to fund advocacy work, and/or efforts to raise awareness, influence policy, and change public discourse. Eligibility information and information on how to apply can be found here.

    • UAF’s grants do not exceed $8,000 USD. The final grant amount awarded is determined by the UAF staff.

  • African Environmental Defenders Emergency Fund
    • The Fund is intended to support environmental and land defenders who find themselves in emergency situations due to the nature of their work.

    • The Fund can provide a grant to oversee an emergency or risky situation connected to a defender’s activism or actions, including for: urgent and short-term legal assistance; cost of bail/bond in exceptional circumstances; urgent medical help; temporary relocation costs; the cost of hiring private security for the defender in exceptional circumstances; and expenses related to the installation of security infrastructure in exceptional circumstances.

    • To be eligible, the applicant must: 1) be a citizen or legal resident of any African country; 2) is an active frontline land and environmental rights defender; 3) is facing an imminent threat or harm due to the nature of their work; and 4) has not secured any other kind of support from another entity, organization, or person.

    • To learn more and apply, go here.

Generally Available Emergency Funding

Previously-Available or Time-Limited Opportunities

  • Fund for Investigative Journalism
    • The Fund for Investigative Journalism provides grants and other support to independent journalists and news organizations to produce high-quality, unbiased, nonpartisan investigative stories that have an impact.

    • To apply, please select this link, click the “apply” button, create an account, and fill out the required application form.

    • Funding amounts vary.

    • The deadline for the FIJ Emergency Grant for Threats to Democracy in the US is December 31, 2023.

    • The deadline for the FIJ Regular and Expedited Grants for Winter 2024 is January 24, 2024.

Non-Emergency Funding

  • 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 [email protected] or contact their office by phone at +1 212-998-2179.

  • 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 [email protected] 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.