Supporting human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa

Founded in 2004, the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF) provides emergency grants to human rights defenders at risk as well as flexible funding and tailored coaching to human rights groups in Algeria, Egypt, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. The individuals and groups they support are often not served by others due to language barriers and their location outside of urban centres.  

In 2020, the Foundation scaled up its funding to meet the needs of civil society during the Covid-19 crisis by supporting 136 human rights defenders (53 individual defenders and 83 groups). Of those, 47 per cent were women and LGBTI rights’ defenders and groups and 52 per cent were young defenders and youth-led civil society initiatives. The majority of beneficiaries were based outside the capital and the major urban centres in the region.

For example, the Foundation successfully relocated a 26 year-old Syrian women’s rights activist and a 28 year-old Egyptian activist from the Nile Delta region who were both at risk of arrest for politically motivated charges. In Morocco, the Foundation supported the first platform for 17 associations of sub-Saharan African migrants to strengthen their right to access basic social services. In Tunisia, the Foundation helped a human rights organisation form a civil society coalition comprising the High Committee for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Coalition). The Coalition played a key role in Tunisian public discourse to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty following the murder of a young woman in September 2020. 

Na’am protests gender-based violence and femicide during the pandemic in Lod, Israel. The signs read, in Hebrew and Arabic, “No, no, no to violence. Yes to life,” and “Who’s next?” ©Na’am

The Foundation strengthened the movement against gender-based violence by supporting grassroots women’s rights organisations in remote communities in Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Morocco during the Covid-19 crisis.

In Lebanon, the Foundation funded a new independent media platform developed by young civil society activists invested in critical and fact-based journalism (the Platform). The Platform aims to contribute to public debate and promote inclusive, just and democratic narratives that can unite Lebanon’s divided society.


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