While in 2011 and 2012 the amount of ICORN applicants seemed to stabilize between 40 and 45, ICORN Programme Director Elisabeth Dyvik can already count 35 applications on her table to date in 2013: “This is a truly significant development”, she says. “The ICORN network of shelter cities, and the help it can offer silenced writers, are gradually gaining more attention. But the growing amount of applications for residencies, is also a result of increased harassment and persecution in the most troubled areas in the world, with Syria as the currently worst example”.
With its at present 40 member cities, ICORN is working hard to find open spaces for as many persecuted writers as possible. “Luckily a new member city, Skellefteå in northern Sweden, was signing in only yesterday”, ICORN director Helge Lunde says, "but to be able to face up to the dramatic increase of writers and human rights defenders in immediate need of shelter, we need more cities to join in as ICORN members”, he continues. “We do hope that our campaigns to recruit new ICORN cities in Europe and beyond will bear fruit, and that the brutal realities for freedom of expression we see unfolding now in countries like Syria, Iran, Eritrea and elsewhere, will speed up the decision processes in the municipal offices.”
Photo: Destruction in Bab Dreeb area in Homs, Syria. By Bo Yaser, Wikimedia Commons.