Shelter City Network in the Spotlight – Georgia

Located in the heart between Central Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is a home to two cities from our Shelter City Network. This vibrant country with an inclusive and active civil society is a great place for temporary relocation and shelter to human rights defenders under threat.

In the upcoming weeks we want to bring you closer to our beautiful network of international cities and introduce you to their incredible work.

Shelter City Tbilisi

Starting with Georgia, Shelter City Tbilisi is the 1st city of the Shelter City Network outside the Netherlands. Founded three and a half years ago, a result of the cooperation between two NGOs – Center for Participation and Development (Georgia) and Truth Hounds (Ukraine/Georgia). Its unique location allows it to host human rights defenders coming from the region of the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Already in its first year, Shelter City Tbilisi hosted 32 defenders from the region. It has ever since grown to host more than 80 HRDs. It provides the defenders with a comfortable, safe and cozy atmosphere, next to educational trainings, group exercises and capacity-building courses.

What does the team say about their experience with the programme?

“It’s a pleasure to watch how the time spent in Shelter City Tbilisi changes people and makes their inner light shine again.”

– Shelter City Georgia Team

Photo: Georgia Shelter City team at the second birthday of Shelter City Tbilisi; second from right to left is Vitali Safarov, our late colleague who lost his life to an ethnic hate crime in Georgia in September 2018.

And what do the guest human rights defenders say about their experience in Shelter City Tbilisi?

“I experienced such care and a sense of family for the first time in another country. It’s a very unusual feeling when you receive care, instead of you taking care of others.”

– Leonid, HRD from Russia

Shelter City Batumi

Almost half a year ago on the seaside of Georgia, a second location joined the network – Shelter City Batumi. Batumi became the 16th Shelter City in the world. This was only possible with the support of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara (see photo of the signing below). The new Shelter City has already received its first guests, and will continue to provide support to human rights defenders from the region, especially ones with dependent family members.

Svitlana Valko (left), project coordinator of Tbilisi Shelter City and George Marjanishvili (right), administrator of Tbilisi Shelter City, with Ilia Verdzadze (middle), Head of the Human Rights Committee of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.

Tbilisi and Batumi Shelter City are unique for providing human rights defenders not only with trainings and support but also with a safe space, quiet time and freedom in a hospitable and richly diverse country. We wish their aspiring and untiring team further growth and we support them in their mission.