Safe Haven

Conveying Syrian society’s voices to the forums where decisions are made


Safe Haven

Human rights defenders in Syria are defending justice and dignity, fighting to uphold rights that belong to us all. They are otherwise ordinary citizens who choose to speak up and bear witness, knowing that governments and armed groups are trying to silence them. In 1998 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, confirming the protection of defenders to be non-negotiable.


Help us protect Syrian human rights defenders and join the movement to give them a safe haven - every one of us can help.

    Safe Haven for Syrian human rights defenders in exile

    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.


    • Evacuating human rights defenders to a safe place
    • Offering an adapted and individualized hosting for each, in order to facilitate their rehabilitation, and promote a quick and peaceful integration socially and professionally
    • Mobilizing and developing networks of local associative actors to increase the hosting capacities and follow-up on the local scale
    • Sensibilizing the local communities, especially the young audience, to the issues related to human rights defense and freedom of press


    • Accomodation within solidarity shared-flats or within families during the first year (period varying from a few months to a year).
    • Accompaniment in their day life and in their integration inside the community : aid with the asylum process request, French class, orientation in the host city, etc.
    • Awareness and public outreach among the French audience about issues related to Human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of press, etc. The defenders are invited to meet the great audience and share their experiences, through conferences, film-debates, exhibitions, as well as media education interventions (see M.I.A. Project).
    • Professional integration inside their new community. The defenders are supported and oriented in building their professional project : resuming studies, introduction to local professional opportunities, internship, professional training, etc.


    • Fewer Syrian human rights defenders are killed
    • Human rights defenders are socially and professionally integrated in France and are empowered to share their knowledge and experience with their new community
    • Diverse and dynamic solidarity networks are mobilized in host communities
    • The local audience in host communities is more sensitized to issues related to human rights defense, freedom of press and expression, significance of media role, etc.


    A collaborative project based on local associative networks.


    The Safe Haven project is based on host solidarity networks gathering various organizations and institutions, national and local, as well as many volunteers. The hosting networks are now implemented in Douarnenez, Lyon, Rennes and Metz.

    If you wish to be part of the Safe Haven project, whether you are an association, an institution or an individual, contact us at the email address You can help by hosting a defender, accompanying a defender (French class, city tour, administrative appointments, etc.) or by supporting the project in donating (66% tax deductible in France) on our website or by cheque at ASML/Syria, 9 avenue Michelet 93 400 Saint-Ouen.