The Emergency Fund for human rights defenders marks its 15th year

2014 06 15 ans Fonds urgence

In 1999, the AEDH administrative council decided to set up an emergency fund for human rights defenders in danger. The Emergency Fund allows the organisation to provide concrete and timely assistance to human rights defenders who have called on us for help and who have been threatened because of their commitment to human rights.

From its creation in 1999 to the end of last year, the Emergency Fund has come to the aid of 444 human rights activists. It has dispensed more than 425,000 Euros in assistance to more than 1,000 people (human rights activists and their family members) in 21 different countries.

In the year 2013 there was a significant increase in the Emergency Fund’s activities, mirroring a trend seen the year before. The Fund assisted some 73 human rights defenders (25 women and 48 men) in 2013 – more than double the number in 2010. In total, some 187 people (including activists’ family members) received assistance from the Fund last year.

The Emergency Fund provided aid to activists in six countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Gabon, Colombia, China and Cameroon. The total budget for direct aid to human rights defenders was just over 70,000 Euros.

Every human rights defender under threat has different needs, whether it’s an assurance of safety, a subsistence grant, medical or legal aid, assistance in exile, or advocacy on their behalf. One human rights defender could need multiple different kinds of assistance. In 2013, the Emergency Fund sponsored more than 102 different interventions, mostly assurances of safety and subsistence grants. This allowed activists – and when necessary, their families – to survive for a period of time outside the area where they have found themselves in danger.

In 2013 the Emergency Fund was put to use in aid of a number of human rights defenders in DRC. The situation last year in the east of the country was particularly troubling as armed conflict intensified and attacks against human rights defenders in North and South Kivu increased in frequency. Activists are threatened and abused by the many armed groups that operate there as well as the authorities. Women defenders of human rights are often the targets of unspeakable violence.

The Emergency Fund for activists in danger would not be possible without the help of our partners and of our contacts on the ground. They help us verify the merits the cases and information we receive. Every decision taken on cases for the Emergency Fund follows an investigation phase that we carry out as rigorously and as quickly as possible.

The Emergency Fund also recognises the financial contributions of a number of other organisations and institutions. In 2013, the European Union (EIDHR Eutopean Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights), OMCT:the World Organisation Against Torture, Secours Populaire Français (Rhône Federation), and the « Un Monde par Tous » Foundation all offered invaluable assistance to the Emergency Fund.

But above all we pay tribute to the human rights defenders themselves, who take on considerable personal risk in their work. May the Emergency Fund continue to aid them in the face of threats, and support their bravery and determination in their fight for human rights.

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