2022 was the first full year of resumption of normal operations since the outbreak of Covid-19 three years ago. We were glad to resume full in-person engagements and restore many of our programs disrupted by the pandemic, and we are grateful to the millions of health professionals and volunteers around the world who made this possible, We are also grateful to our partners who stood with us throughout the challenging period.
The return to normalcy was especially welcome for human rights defenders (HRDs) who bore a significant brunt of the downsides of the pandemic, from state reprisals for daring to challenge pandemic rules to isolation-induced anxiety and related mental health challenges.
In 2022, DefendDefenders continued to prioritise the protection and safety of HRDs as well as strengthening their capacity to confront numerous risks and threats around their work. We continued to upscale our protection program, with over 1000 HRDs and their families benefiting from our emergency protection relief, ensuring that they have a social safety net as they navigate the risks associated with their work. At the continental level, we expanded our Ubuntu Hub Cities program to now eight cities on the continent, by launching the Accra and Praia hub cities in Ghana and Cape Verde respectively. This will ensure that HRDs on the continent have more safe spaces, where they can stay safe but not silent.