Crisis Action
Annual Report

© Benjamin Girette, Amnesty International France

Nicola Reindorp
CEO, Crisis Action

Regan E. Ralph
Acting Board Chair Crisis Action

Reflections on the year by Crisis Action's CEO and Acting Board Chair

The 7 October attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians and the Israeli government’s crushing military response have—like Putin’s invasion of Ukraine the year before—highlighted bitter divisions in our fractured world and the price civilians pay for the actions of those seeking to impose their will by military force.

This crisis—along with others in 2023—also showed the value of Crisis Action's model and unique role.

Within hours of the 7 October attacks, we convened a cross-section of partners, facilitating collective efforts that have influenced government decisions and helped save lives.

At a time when the multilateral system is under strain, we supported the inspirational families of more than 100,000 missing and forcibly detained Syrians, helping them achieve a remarkable victory: the UN General Assembly voted to create a new institution dedicated to clarifying the fate and whereabouts of all Syria’s missing persons and supporting victims, survivors and families.

We also worked with incredible individuals from Ethiopia, Sudan and the Sahel to amplify their demands for peace. We supported Ethiopian partners to launch a first-of-its-kind civil society monitor of the African Union-led peace process. On Sudan, we elevated the demand of Sudanese and African women activists calling for the United Arab Emirates to halt its support for the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and end the escalating horror of sexual violence scarring lives and communities. In the Sahel, we supported the People’s Coalition—which we helped create—to find solidarity and strategic focus instead of despair and fear.

Throughout the year, we coordinated petitions and protests, media briefings and press statements, delegations and discussions. Our allies ranged from former heads of state to military commanders; policy analysts to medical doctors; Nobel Peace Prize winners to little-known but fierce activists. We engaged policymakers at the highest levels in government and multilateral organisations across the world.

In a year when geopolitical shifts seemed to occur at dizzying speed, and threats to civilians escalated, we remained convinced in our core belief: that civilians, no matter who or where they are, should be protected from conflict. And we have been heartened by our many allies around the world who share our view and have affirmed the value and impact of our work.

The following summary of our work—our Annual Report for 2023—comes with thanks:

To our partners, for the privilege of working with you.

To our donors, for making this work possible.

If you haven't yet worked with us or are not yet a donor, we hope you will join us in the urgent, collective effort to save lives and, in the words of the UN Charter, save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.


In 2023, Crisis Action worked with partners on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Sudan, the Sahel, Yemen, Ukraine, Ethiopia and Myanmar. We responded to new and escalating conflicts, continued to engage strategically in entrenched disputes, and sought to promote accountability in the wake of violence and abuse of human rights. We built bridges between civil society in different continents—sometimes creating first-of-their-kind alliances—and supported coalitions and citizen-led advocacy in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

The following are a few highlights from the year that show how our nimble, strategic, networked approach can help reduce violence, reassert the rights of civilians, and promote accountability and lasting peace.

2023 Impact - an Overview


  • A global collaboration spurred by Crisis Action including via the #CeasefireNOW Campaign contributed to pressure that led to a six-day humanitarian pause in late November, which allowed some aid delivery in Gaza and the release of some Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.
  • The UN General Assembly (UNGA) call for a ceasefire passed by a majority on 13 December, after Canada, Australia and Japan were among 30 governments that shifted position to vote in favour. Crisis Action worked with partners ahead of an earlier UNGA vote to garner support for a humanitarian truce.
  • A UN Security Council resolution demanding ‘immediate, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale’ passed on 22 December but stopped short of mandating the ceasefire demanded by Crisis Action’s partners and allies across the world. Russia and the US abstained in the vote supported by the other 13 Council members.


  • A coalition of Syrian family organisations, representing more than 100,000 Syrians who remain missing, abducted or disappeared, achieved an historic win: convincing the UN General Assembly to vote in favour of establishing a new independent institution to clarify the fate and whereabouts of all missing persons in the Syrian Arab Republic and to support victims, survivors and families.


  • A delegation of eminent activists influenced the decisions of an African Union Ministerial meeting with their call for greater cohesion in the array of peace initiatives on Sudan, a halt to support of Sudan’s warring factions from their various backers, and the inclusion of women and young people in the peace process.
  • Thousands of people joined in a social media campaign — #SpeakOutOnSudan — to demand that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cease its support of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which is accused of committing horrific crimes including a campaign of sexual violence against women and girls. The effort drew the support of high-profile African women leaders, including a former head of state, increasing the international pressure on the UAE to change course.


  • Civil society groups were part of a successful effort to prevent Russia from regaining its seat on the UN Human Rights Council when the matter came up for a vote in the UN General Assembly in October. Civil society pressure played a key role in Russia’s expulsion from the Council in 2022, following its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Ahead of the August BRICS Summit, and in a wider effort to amplify demands from the Global South for Russia to show greater respect for international humanitarian law, four major philanthropic foundations in South Africa collaborated for the first time in a joint letter appealing to African heads of state to convey their expectations that Russia respect civilians and halt action threatening food security across Africa.


  • A Pan-African group of NGOs challenged Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s claim that ‘Ethiopia is now at peace’ with the launch of a first-of-its-kind civil society monitoring mechanism, presenting real-time information and analysis of threats to peace and arguing for the African Union-led peace process to be expanded to other regions, and to include women and young people.


  • The People’s Coalition for the Sahel continued its efforts to promote a more people-centred and effective approach to peace and security through delegations that met with policymakers in Dakar in June and at the regional body ECOWAS in November.
  • Members of the Coalition influenced the withdrawal plan for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) presented to the Security Council by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, following the abrupt decision of the Malian authorities to demand that the mission be withdrawn.


  • Crisis Action was lauded by partners and policymakers for its role deepening civil society engagement with policymakers at the African Union (AU). A second Annual Strategic Retreat in Addis Ababa between African civil society and the AU’s Department for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) was variously described by partners as a ‘turnaround’ and ‘a key moment in the history of CSO engagement with the AU’. Ambassador Frederic Gateretse-Ngoga, senior advisor in the office of the Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security of the African Union Commission, praised Crisis Action’s role as ‘essential to generating human-centred policies that prioritise civilians’.


A rally in support of Gaza at the Süreyya Opera House in Istanbul.

Catalysing a global call for action

On October 7 Hamas unleashed a surprise attack on Israel, killing more than 1,100 people and seizing more than 200 captives.

Israel’s response was swift and relentless. Thousands of people, including children, lost their lives in intense bombing, which struck hospitals, schools and UN compounds, sparking accusations of grave violations of international humanitarian law. With essential supplies of water, electricity and food cut off, the situation escalated into a public health catastrophe.

The situation for civilians in Gaza was variously described by the UN and other officials as ‘unimaginable’, and ‘hellish’. UN emergency relief chief Martin Griffiths described Gaza as the ‘worst ever’ humanitarian crisis he’d experienced. Meanwhile, violence against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, worsened. The UN Secretary-General invoked a rarely used article of the UN Charter to describe the escalating situation as a threat to international peace and security.

Within hours of the Hamas attacks, Crisis Action began to convene and consult partners, launching an emergency response aimed at protecting all civilians. Quickly forging alignment among partners on priorities, we worked to coordinate, mobilise and amplify influential voices on the key messages that were identified by our partners: a ceasefire, the release of hostages, humanitarian access, respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and the need to address the root causes of the conflict.

Calling for a ceasefireNOW in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Amnesty International Nepal
Calling for a ceasefireNOW in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Amnesty International Nepal

In 30 years of this, I’ve never seen this kind of ego-free and strategic coordination by a group like Crisis Action. A huge thanks to the entire Crisis Action team.”

Paul O’Brien, Executive Director at Amnesty International USA

Our action included coordinating and amplifying joint statements and letters from humanitarian and human rights partners and engaging and connecting with influential Jewish, military, humanitarian, and human rights organisations and individuals.

To ensure that the global media had access to first-hand perspectives from Gaza, we established a WhatsApp group connecting more than 700 journalists from international media outlets with trusted Palestinian civil society organisations. One leading journalist spoke for many when he described the group as ‘invaluable’. For policymakers from around the world, we organised successive briefings by partners, providing highly valued insight for officials ranging from those at the African Union to the National Security Council of the US government.

We also mobilized the CeasefireNOW Campaign appealing for the release of hostages and a halt to the cycle of violence causing humanitarian catastrophe. A joint letter secured the support from more than 800 organisations in a matter of days. A petition for individuals quickly secured more than a million signatories. We ensured both the letter and petition reached diplomats at the UN ahead of the successful vote in the UN General Assembly demanding a humanitarian truce.

A Global Day of Action united hundreds of local, regional and international organisations behind the call for a ceasefire. Actions took place in front of parliaments, monumental buildings and public spaces in more than 90 countries, while online, more than 50,000 posts on X (Twitter) alone reached more than 100 million accounts.

This collective effort, led by Crisis Action, influenced the French and US Administrations to call for a humanitarian pause and saw shifts in position from other governments alarmed by the escalating catastrophe. This sustained pressure created a deep echo in government chambers and has swayed political and public opinion to protect civilian lives.

The campaign has continued to demonstrate Crisis Action’s unique and valued role at the heart of the global effort demanding more effective and consistent action to protect all civilians from conflict—both in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and worldwide.

Representatives of humanitarian organisations in front of the Houses of Parliament
Representatives of humanitarian organisations in front of the Houses of Parliament. Photo credit: CARE International UK

Halting conflict, protecting civilians and negotiating peace always requires innovation and collaboration. From its efforts to galvanise a global demand for a ceasefire on Gaza to its work behind the scenes on Syria and Sudan, Crisis Action has done vital work to channel and focus the efforts of a wide variety of organisations and individuals in pursuit of respect for humanitarian principles and saving lives. I’ve seen first-hand how this can impact decision-making efforts in much-needed ways. I can’t thank them enough.”

Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator


Fadwa Mahmoud, co-founder of the Syrian family organisation Families for Freedom, speaks with Al Jazeera. Photo credit: Guido Neira

A victory for the families of missing persons

The war in Syria, now more than 12 years old, has been a blight upon humanity. A particular cause of pain for Syrians from every part of the country and across all divides has been the fate of the more than 130,000 loved ones who have gone missing, including family members who were forcibly disappeared, abducted, tortured and arbitrarily detained.

Crisis Action’s work with Syrian family, survivor and victim associations has paid off with a resounding victory for creative and determined advocacy, achieved amidst sustained gridlock in the multilateral system. On 29 June, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic (IIMP), a landmark achievement aiming to fill the gap in the current patchwork of institutions related to missing persons in Syria. Not only a historic victory for the Syrian families, the new victim-centred institution could also serve as a precedent for future crises, providing a template for how to address the often-overlooked plight of missing persons and their families.

Core to the campaign’s success was Crisis Action’s close collaboration with affected families. The Truth and Justice Charter Group, first formed in 2021, includes ten Syrian organisations dedicated to establishing the fate of the missing. Crisis Action coordinated their navigation through the labyrinthine processes necessary to establish a UN institution, arranging consultations with UN officials at all levels (including the Secretary-General himself) and UN member states from all regions of the world. We supported efforts to bring their message to the public, coordinating UN side events and other public fora and arranging media events and interviews.

The families knew exactly what was needed and were compelling in making their case. In casting their votes, many diplomats paid tribute them. As Ambassador Olivier Maes of Luxembourg put it, ‘The tireless advocacy of these families and their struggle to claim their right to know and to shed light on the fate of their missing loved ones is the driving force behind this initiative’. Another observer described the effort to establish the UN institution as ‘a masterclass in survivor-driven advocacy’.

A Crisis Action-produced video on advocacy efforts to establish the institution can be viewed here:

Crisis Action was key to the establishment of the institution for Syrian families. They provided astute strategic guidance and ensured all stakeholders listened to the families’ asks. It was a pleasure to observe this close cooperation that led to a unique achievement in the effort to obtain justice for all Syrians.”

Hanny Megally, Commissioner, UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic / Deputy Director, NYU Center on International Cooperation (CIC)


Refugees from Darfur have crossed the border into Chad fleeing ethnic violence. Photo by Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures

Mobilising international attention to halt atrocities

On 15 April, a vicious war broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This bitter battle between former allies has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths and 7 million people displaced within Sudan and to neighbouring countries. ‘We are, by any analysis, not on the precipice of a human catastrophe but in the very midst of one,’ Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said of the situation in Darfur, in July 2023.

In response, Crisis Action worked to amplify the voices of Sudanese activists, shift the media narrative away from ‘two generals fighting’, convene a coalition of Sudanese and Pan African partners to influence the African Union (AU), and support a campaign to isolate the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a chief spoiler of peace.

In November, we supported a delegation of nine civil society leaders from Sudan and the wider region to Addis Ababa, to meet with officials charged with coordinating international action on Sudan. The delegation’s message: efforts by the international community to broker peace have been uncoordinated, exclusive and ineffectual, with various regional powers pursuing their own interests and spoiling the prospects for peace.

Their recommendations—that the AU should heed civil society advice on who to include in the peace process and use all the levers at its disposal to counter the parties perpetrating atrocities and the conflict—were reflected both in the outcomes of a subsequent Ministerial Meeting and the declaration of a December meeting of AU officials.

A civil society delegation meets with the Kenyan ambassador in Addis Ababa.
A civil society delegation meets with the Kenyan ambassador in Addis Ababa.

At this grave moment in Sudan’s history, voices calling for peace and reconciliation need to reach the policymakers who can deliver genuine change for the Sudanese people. I am thankful that Crisis Action is working behind the scenes to make those connections happen and pushing to ensure that those connections result in lasting impact. We work best when we work together.”

Kholood Khair, a Sudanese policy analyst and founding director of Confluence Advisory


Illustration credit: DOXA Magazine

Challenging impunity

In 2023, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to take a heavy toll on civilians. The Kremlin maintained its support for the criminal regimes in Syria and Belarus, further deployed Wagner Group mercenaries in the Sahel, and reportedly plotted a coup in Moldova. At the same time, the Russian state dramatically increased suppression of its citizens’ rights and ramped up censorship of the media, while using state-owned platforms and social media to spread disinformation.

Crisis Action continued to support Russian civil society to counter the Kremlin’s narrative and justification for its actions, both domestically and internationally, and to amplify alternative Russian voices in global media.

We facilitated partner relationships between global civil society actors and policymakers in the MENA region and at the UN level, arranging for Russian independent journalists to hear testimonies on the Syrian conflict, and facilitating opportunities for analysts to explore how to counteract the impunity prevalent in conflicts across MENA, the Sahel and Ukraine.

We continued to support the mandate of the first ever Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation by bringing a high-level delegation to New York to coincide with the rapporteur’s report to the General Assembly, drawing a link between domestic repressions in Russia and the commission of violations against civilians abroad.


Handmade baskets from Ethiopia.

Pushing for comprehensive peace

In November 2022, the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), which brought the first glimmers of hope to a conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more. A fragile peace held in Tigray throughout 2023 but the humanitarian situation remained dire, and the agreement did not address the ongoing unrest and violence in other regions, including Amhara, Oromia and Afar.

Our campaign strategy focused on strengthening the AU-led peace process to make it more sustainable. Specifically, we advocated with partners for the process to be expanded to other warring regions and parties and to prioritise the inclusion of women and young people.

We arranged for partners to confer directly with the AU’s leading decision-makers. A Pan-African civil society delegation visited the AU’s Addis Ababa headquarters, where they met with Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Bankole lauded the group for bringing concrete and practical proposals.

Our work to support efforts to expand women’s involvement led to an online meeting between Pan-African CSOs and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the former deputy president of South Africa and one of three AU mediators responsible for brokering the peace deal. We worked with a former Ethiopian government minister, Filsan Abdi, to elevate her call for women’s representation in the peace process. She published an op-ed in Al Jazeera and The Ethiopian Reporter, which was seen by nearly 9 million people on social media, and spurred a debate that led to additional coverage in English- and Amharic-language outlets.

Filsan Abdi discusses the importance of women’s representation in the Ethiopian peace process on the Amharic-language Seifu Fantahun Show on EBS.
Filsan Abdi discusses the importance of women’s representation in the Ethiopian peace process on the Amharic-language Seifu Fantahun Show on EBS.

I was privileged to work with Crisis Action on the effort to enhance the peace deal reached by the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. It is essential that Ethiopian women and girls be given a seat at the table—and Crisis Action stood with us in the fight to achieve that goal.”

Filsan Abdi, who formerly served as Ethiopia’s Minister for Women, Children, and Youth, is the founding director of the Horn Peace Institute.

In addition, we partnered with the Daily Maverick of South Africa to host a widely viewed webinar with the executive directors of two Crisis Action partners, Atrocities Watch Africa and the African Leadership Centre. The event drew attention to gaps in the peace process and offered suggestions for how civil society can support peacebuilding.

Significantly, Crisis Action also worked with local, regional and international partners to launch a first-of-its-kind civil society monitoring mechanism of the CoHA. Its findings were published in a report entitled Ethiopia Watch, which meticulously detailed critical gaps in the agreement that derived both from its limited scope and implementation failures. The report provided recommendations for further action and served as a basis for continued advocacy by the civil society coalition, towards the AU, the Ethiopian government, the Tigray Interim Administration, Tigray Defence Force, and the US government.

The report launch was covered extensively by high-profile media outlets (in both English and Amharic), amplified on social media with hashtag #EyesOnEthiopia, and presented during a virtual launch event with more than 200 attendees.

The campaign has disrupted the harmful narrative that Ethiopia is now at peace.

Crisis Action unites civil society like no one else can. They enable organisations to co-create collective strategies that are both creative and impactful.”

Dismas Nkunda, Executive Director of Atrocities Watch Africa


A man tends a fire in a camp for displaced persons in Bamako, Mali. Photo by Pascal Maitre / Panos Pictures.

Advocating for a people-centred approach in the Sahel

Unrest in the Sahel intensified through 2023, largely unremarked by the global media. Extreme violence perpetrated by armed extremist groups, coupled with security operations to confront them, threatened civilians in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and drove widespread displacement and humanitarian need. A coup took place in Niger in July - the fifth in the region since 2020.

As governments cracked down on civil space and media freedom, Crisis Action responded by increasing its support for the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, aiming to strengthen and entrench a culture of collaboration and solidarity among national, regional and international organisations and enable the coalition to become a fully independent entity.

These efforts were challenged by the escalating political instability and polarisation. The military authorities now ruling all three countries of the Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) have reacted to the growing threat of armed groups by doubling down on a military-first response. Their reliance on foreign mercenaries and self-defence militias has failed to restore security and has jeopardised civilian safety.

Civil unity has fractured, and our partners feel threatened and intimidated. Some members of the People’s Coalition have been targeted by hate speech online or arrested and detained. One, Dr. Daouda Diallo, was abducted in broad daylight in front of an official building in Burkina Faso in December.

A meeting of the People's Coalition for the Sahel in Niamey, Niger
A meeting of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel in Niamey, Niger.

The People’s Coalition for the Sahel, supported by Crisis Action, provides a space for exchange and solidarity for Sahelian civil society, victim of an unprecedented shrinking of civic space. With our People’s Coalition, we feel safer to continue to document human rights violations committed by all parties in the Sahel. Thanks to the Coalition, we resist together.”

Binta Sidibé-Gascon, President of Observatoire Kisal, member of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel

Income 2023 (£) 2022 (£) 2023 ($) 2022 ($)
Foundations & Individuals 2,752,351 2,226,767 3,409,888 2,758,741
Governments 420,964 610,231 521,532 756,016
Partnership Contributions 130,546 123,261 161,733 152,709
Other Income 28,473 157,345 35,275 194,935
Interest 6,796 439 8,420 543
Total 3,339,130 3,118,043 4,136,848 3,862,944
Expenditure 2023 (£) 2022 (£) 2023 ($) 2022 ($)
Salaries & Related Costs 3,149,425 2,631,804 3,901,823 3,260,542
Occupancy 236,418 180,347 292,898 223,432
Travel & Travel Related Costs 198,425 147,966 245,829 183,315
IT, Comms & Office Supplies 133,524 131,523 165,423 162,944
Publications 40,819 50,730 50,570 62,849
Events 19,110 11,038 23,675 13,674
Professional Fees 86,038 79,215 106,592 98,139
Asset write-off 14,105 19,818 17,474 24,553
Finance Charges - 76,203 - 51,923 - 94,408 - 64,327
Depreciation 6,166 10,716 7,639 13,276
Total 3,807,826 3,211,233 4,717,516 3,978,397
Deficit/Surplus 2023 (£) 2022 (£) 2023 ($) 2022 ($)
(Deficit)/Surplus Before Taxation 468,696 93,190 580,667 115,453
Taxation 0 508 0 629
(Deficit)/Surplus After Taxation 468,696 92,682 580,667 114,824

Exchange Rate at 31st May 2023 (USD) £1 =US$1.2644

Exchange Rate at 31st May 2022 (USD) £1 = US$1.4192

Statement of Activities

For the year ended 31 May 2023

Total Income

Crisis Action has been instrumental in coordinating Pan-African civil society’s response to the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. Deeper engagement between CSOs and African policymakers is essential to generating human-centered policies that prioritise civilians—and Crisis Action’s work ensures this.”

Ambassador Frederic Gateretse-Ngoga, senior advisor on international partnerships, the AU Border Program, and regional security mechanisms in the office of the Commissioner for Political Affairs and Peace and Security of the African Union Commission