The SAFE HAVEN project aims to protect Syrian human rights defenders in danger, and to support them in their social and professional reintegration in their host community in France. We provide them with comprehensive support and all the tools needed to rebuild their lives, while fostering exchange between them and the local host community. Through partnerships and public outreach events, their unique personal experiences and knowledge help build solidarity in the host community.
In light of recent developments in Syria, many Syrian reporters and human rights defenders need a safe haven abroad more urgently than ever. Independent reporters and human rights defenders are considered terrorists by the Syrian government and risk life imprisonment, torture, or death if arrested. Their commitment to document the events, to assist and amplify the voice of the civil society, make them targets of both the regime and extremist armed groups. With the current capture of all territories previously controlled by opposition or Kurdish-led forces, reporters and human rights defenders cannot stay in the country. While the regime is taking back territories, they are then forced to seek refuge in Turkey where their situation is usually very precarious. Obtaining a residency permit or protection card has become more and more difficult for Syrian refugees, who are less and less protected from deportation to Syria. In addition, with the increase in deportation from Turkey and Lebanon, these activists now have nowhere to go.
To address this life-threatening issue, ASML launched in late 2018 the SAFE HAVEN project. A project aiming to provide safety, and social and professional integration in Europe for the most at risk human right defenders.
The SAFE HAVEN project benefits human rights defenders in situations of extreme instability or danger, whether they are in Syria, in neighbouring countries such as Turkey, or in France. Through its wide network developed for more than 8 years of operations in conflict–afflicted Syria, and thanks to the help of our NGOs partners (Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Syrian Center for Media (SCM), International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Syrian Journalists Association (SJA), etc.), ASML identifies the most at risk human rights defenders and reporters and supports them during the process of getting a long stay visa.