Center for Participation and Development
room 16, Bakhtrioni street, 5 entrance, office 82, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0194
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Tbilisi and Batumi shelter cities and Telavi art-residence: growing resilience of HRDs in the time of global crisis

IATI Identifier: GE-RS-406061513-XM-DAC-7-PPR-4000004429

Published on IATI
  • date_range Nov 01, 2020
  • autorenew Implementation (Status)

Tbilisi Shelter City is a project founded in 2016 by the Center for Participation and Development (CPD) aimed to provide temporary relocation and rehabilitation for human rights defenders at risk. The program implies both a 3-month relocation to a safe place in Georgia and creating conditions for the professional development and psychological recovery of human rights defenders. It is also designed to reduce risks and help human rights defenders leave an unsafe environment for a while. During the program, the human rights defender is provided with accommodation in a safe place, receives opportunities for education and skill development, acquiring new professional contacts, and if necessary, he or she is provided with psychological and medical assistance. The project also contributes to the international advocacy effort for better protection of HRDs. The main beneficiaries of Tbilisi Shelter City are HRDs, civil activists, journalists, and cultural workers from Central Asia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and the South Caucasus. During the time of the project implementation, the program has provided the above-mentioned professional services to more than 200 HRDs and their family members. Georgia is well known as a rehab country for many HRDs that were threatened, tortured, or suffering from psychological health problems. Moreover, Georgia can offer a more comfortable environment for HRDs from the region due to their common cultural background and history. HRDs do not have to accustom to the new cultural environment when relocating here. Citizens of Central Asian states, Belarus, Russia, and other post-soviet countries do not need visas to enter Georgia, which increases the speed of relocation and makes possible emergency transfers arranged within hours. This makes the shelter in Georgia much better accessible for HRDs from the region in comparison to shelters located in the EU. At the same time, Tbilisi Shelter City is the only relocation program accepting families with children, which is a very important precondition for the relocation of female human rights defenders. Despite the global crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Tbilisi Shelter City not only managed to retain functioning but increased its capacity and expanded the program. In 2019 the project was branched out and opened Batumi Shelter City, and in 2020 - Telavi Shelter City. The shelter offers two programs for the relocation of human rights defenders 1. Short-term relocation (up to 3 months) targeted at human rights defenders with low and middle level of threats. The primary goal of the program is to strengthen the capacity of a human rights defender and prevent professional burnout. 2. Emergency relocation of human rights defenders under immediate threat. This program is designed for the people who are directly threatened in their home countries. This program has no defined timeline. In both cases the option of relocation of immediate family members (children and/or spouses) is available. The decision to relocate immediate family members with the HRD is evaluated on the case by case basis considering the following factors: imminent threats to the family members if they stay in the country in question, the age of the children, are there other family members who can take care of children while HRD is undergoing the program of temporary relocation. Accommodation and subsistence: the Shelter is situated in Georgia and has the main facility in Tbilisi with the capacity to host up to 30 human rights defenders and with the branches in Batumi and Telavi (dedicated to the cultural workers), where up to 10 HRDs can be hosted annually. In Batumi, we house HRDs who primarily need psychological healing and rehabilitation and who come with children. In Telavi, we host cultural workers. Telavi facility is also focused on the retreats implemented upon the request of the organizations working in the region to provide rehabilitation and psychological support to human rights defenders who are living under permanent stress, but due to the peculiarities of their work cannot leave their countries for longer periods of time. To ensure the sustainability of the branch the shelter we negotiated the cooperation with the Human Rights Committee of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara and signed the memorandum of understanding pledging the support to the protection of HRDs. Medical assistance: shelter has established permanent cooperation with the clinics which provide aid to the participants of the program. A special pillar of medical assistance program is provided to women human rights defenders who were exposed to sexual violence, or harassment and to HRDs recently released from prison. The majority of HRDs use the time in the shelter to care for their health condition. Besides medical check-up, dental care, and other ordinary medical procedures we helped people in the following complicated circumstances: mental health assistance, severe muscle-skeleton disorder, diabetes, complicated dental care/restoration after torture, hepatitis, tuberculosis, eye surgery, and other types of surgery. Psychological assistance: two key types of assistance are provided: work with crisis cases in narrative practice, which is suitable for post-trauma syndromes, nervous breakdowns, and panic fear; permanent psychological assistance to increase resistance level prevention of traumatization and burnout. Special attention is given to the cases of women human rights defenders building their capacity to withstand blackmail sexual harassment and in case of need to overcome the trauma after sexual assault. HRDs hosted by Shelter have individual therapy sessions and also collective workshops are provided for them. Education: the shelter designs workshop and training programs to strengthen the professional skills of human rights defenders. Such trainings can be tailored to meet the needs of individual participants or groups of participants. The topics of workshops include but are not limited to: security, communications, advocacy, project management, impact evaluation. Participants will be also able to develop their soft skills through the following trainings: leadership, public speaking, language classes (English), driving courses. The workshops are conducted by experts from the leading NGOs from Georgia and Ukraine. Monitoring and evaluation: There are regular evaluations conducted every three months after the group of HRDs leaves and fills in evaluation forms. The participants fill in an anonymous online survey evaluating the impact of the project and the level of satisfaction with training, counseling, and other services. The survey is developed to collect gender-specific data and information. In parallel, the team of the Shelter conducts self-evaluation tracking the progress towards the achievement of the project goals. The previous participants of the program clearly complemented the holistic approach of the program in regards to their psychological care and the facilitation of medical treatments. They stated the extensive need and ongoing continuation of such a program. Application process: The application process to the Tbilisi Shelter City is open to the public. The announcement is placed on social media and shared by partner organizations and through mailing lists. After the applications are received they undergo a thorough selection and vetting process. The first selection is done by the shelter staff. Shortlisted candidates are shared with the Steering Committee comprised of the key human rights organizations in Central Asia and Russia. In the case of doubt or contradicting information on an applicant Tbilisi Shelter City seeks advisory opinion from international organizations working in the region (Frontline Defenders, Freedom House, People in Need, etc). Tbilisi Shelter City program enjoys the support of reputable donors such as the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Georgia, the German Federal Foreign Office, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), German Marshall Fund of the United States. In November 2020 with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia CPD started to implement the two-year project “Tbilisi and Batumi shelter cities and Telavi art-residence: growing resilience of HRDs in the time of global crisis” aimed at enhancing the relocation services provided by Tbilisi and Batumi Shelter Cities and Telavi art-residence to the human rights defenders from Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Eastern Europe, and the Balkan region.

  • Human rights

Participating Organisations

Center for Participation and Development National NGO Implementing


Transaction Value Provider
Type Date
413,759 GEL Provider N/A Receiver N/A Incoming Funds
date_range Nov 24, 2020


251,910 USD
  • 827,518 GEL (Valued at Nov 12, 2020)
    date_range Nov 01, 2020 - Oct 29, 2021
access_time Updated on Oct 12, 2022 07:45:14