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  • Crisis Action Update: June 2024

    This month’s update features the latest news from our work with partners on our emergency responses for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our campaigns for Sudan and the Sahel, our strategic engagement on Russia, and our Emergency Response, Learning and Innovation (ERLI) Team.

    Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

    Working with partners to prevent a worsening tragedy

    Against the backdrop of a horrific political, security and humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Crisis Action remained engaged with partners and allies to raise the discomfort of the U.S. government and pressure the Israeli government to agree to a ceasefire and adhere to International Humanitarian Law, which would spare the loss of civilian life and secure the release of Hamas-held civilian hostages.

    Over the last quarter, we have worked with partners and allies over the last quarter to:

    * Amplify warnings about the catastrophic consequences of a full-scale military operation in Rafah

    * Urge action to alleviate the onset of famine-like conditions resulting from Israel’s blockade and use of starvation as a weapon of war

    * Elevate calls demanding that states halt the transfer of arms to Israel and Palestinian armed groups to avert further humanitarian catastrophe and loss of civilian life

    The Crisis Action-coordinated #CeasefireNOW coalition, which now includes a network of 800 affiliates, has proven a model in harnessing the power of a varied membership to send a collective message with the reach to be heard in the world’s capitals.

    The coalition’s efforts included the Global Day of Action, which built upon an open letter signed by over 250 organizations calling on UN Member States to stop arms transfers to Israel. On 2 May, hundreds of civil society actors and organisations participated in demonstrations throughout the world, including in leading arms-exporting nations. A coordinated social media campaign reached 100 million people, including celebrities who further amplified the campaign’s central messages on their social networks.

    In addition, as the UN Security Council debated a ceasefire resolution in March, Crisis Action worked with ally Avaaz and partners Médcins Sans Frontières and Medical Aid for Palestinians to organize a powerful delegation of four eminent doctors (Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Professor Nick Maynard, Dr. Thaer Ahmad, Dr. Amber Alayyan) with recent experience caring for patients in Gaza. In New York, the doctors met with UN officials and Member State representatives. In Washington, they saw senior U.S. officials from the White House, Department of Defense, State Department, USAID, and Congress.

    UN diplomats said the delegation influenced the adoption of UNSC resolution 2728 calling for an immediate ceasefire, which passed by an overwhelming 14 votes in favor with a single abstention (rather than a veto) from the United States. U.S. State Department staff described the delegation as “one of the most important delegations, if not the most important delegation, to come to DC.” The doctors secured widespread media coverage from leading print and broadcast outlets. A Crisis Action-organised press conference at the UN was standing room only.

    The success of media work during the doctors’ delegation grew out of a series of media briefings Crisis Action coordinated to elevate partners’ efforts to underscore the severity of the humanitarian situation and build momentum and public pressure on global governments to take action. The online briefings, which attracted an average of more than 100 journalists for each session, featured partners and allies from Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, MedGlobal, International Rescue Committee, Médecins du Monde, Norwegian Refugee Council, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Human Rights Watch, Center for International Policy, and several other organisations.

    Collectively, the media briefings spurred significant global coverage and equipped policymakers and public constituencies with timely, reliable information from trustworthy sources about the situation on the ground in Gaza.

    Crisis Action’s work with partners in France played a role in a series of decisions and actions taken by the French government, which called for an independent UN investigation into the World Central Kitchen attack in Gaza and pushed the European Commission and other EU Member States to continue funding for UNRWA (and in fact led to an increase in emergency support for Palestinians).

    The Chief of Staff of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs told Crisis Action and partners, “Since our first discussion when you raised the issue of mistreatment and jailing without due process of Palestinian children, it’s been an important part of our discussions with the Israelis.”


    Driving collective action to address a humanitarian catastrophe

    In March, following consultations with more than 60 Sudanese, regional and INGO partners, Crisis Action launched a Sudan core campaign with three objectives: (i) maximizing international pressure to scale-up the humanitarian response; (ii) halting the supply of arms to the parties; and (iii) ensuring that diverse Sudanese civil society voices are at the heart of an effective and coordinated peace process.

    In May, we launched an effort to bring international attention to the imminent risk of genocide in the besieged city of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.

    Crisis Action partnered with Avaaz to coordinate two emergency media briefings on the situation in El Fasher, each featuring leading international and Sudanese voices and garnering coverage in the Sudan Tribune, BBC, the Guardian, Global News (Canada), Globe and Mail (Canada), the New Arab, TRT (Turkey), Middle East Eye, and other outlets.

    We also worked with partners Protection Approaches, Human Rights Watch, Confluence Advisory, and the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab in concerted advocacy push at the UN and in the UK. On June 13, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2736, which demanded that the Rapid Support Forces immediately stop the siege of El Fasher.

    Crisis Action supported the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab—which uses satellite imagery and information technology to chart the movement of the armed belligerents—to engage with high-level policymakers and participate in an in-person media briefing in London, which resulted in important coverage in the Guardian (as well as other outlets) and meetings with the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and other key policymakers.

    In April, Crisis Action worked with Sudanese organisations and international NGOs to drive collective action at the Paris Humanitarian Conference on Sudan. As space was limited to 15 CSOs for the conference, Crisis Action’s Paris office and Solidarités International convened a wider Sudanese and INGO roundtable with the French MFA on 12 April so that key messages were carried into the conference.
    The conference resulted in more than €2 billion for humanitarian aid pledges for Sudan. Crisis Action ensured that the donors present heard directly from key Sudanese organisations, including local women’s groups, on the imperative for action.

    The Sahel

    Strengthening the hand of the People’s Coalition

    With the political and security situation across the Sahel in a parlous state, Crisis Action continued to work to strengthen the governance of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel and develop new ways of working to build habits of collaboration that we judge are crucial to the Coalition’s future impact to better protect civilians in the region.

    A major recent development was the appointment and induction of a new Coordinator of the People’s Coalition, based in the region, and the preparation for a coalition meeting in Dakar at the end of June, which will further progress new ways of working as Crisis Action is progressively handing over its responsibilities of strategic facilitator of the Coalition and setting up new tools and systems for the day-to-day management of the Coalition’s work (independent of Crisis Action).

    The Dakar meeting will also refresh the Coalition’s strategic priorities and ways of working to secure collective action to better protect civilians in the region. The coordinator, who is currently undertaking a listening tour of Coalition members in Bamako, Niamey and Ouagadougou, is also leading with partners a reassessment of opportunities for impact, in an increasingly challenging environment.

    Coalition members and the Crisis Action team also shared the relief in April of welcoming back Burkinabè partner Dr Daouda Diallo, who was released on 8 March, 98 days after his abduction and forced enrolment in the Burkinabè Security forces. He thanked his colleagues for the public mobilisation led by the People’s Coalition, which has played a role in his eventual release.

    During a high-level panel on the Sahel hosted by the Robert Bosch Foundation (a supporter of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel and Crisis Action) at the Munich Security Conference in February, members of the People’s Coalition called on the international community not to give up on the peoples of the Sahel, and to continue to invest in the region, despite political tensions with the military authorities. The message was well received by the German Development Minister who, as current Chair of the Sahel Alliance (which brings together donors), decided as a result to invite the People’s Coalition to the Sahel Alliance’s General Assembly in Berlin in July 2024 to represent the voice of peoples affected by conflict.

    The same message was reiterated in March at a conference in Brussels co-hosted by Belgium as current President of the European Union.

    The Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Launching a new emergency response

    In March, with the situation in DRC threatening to erupt into an international confrontation and on the brink of major humanitarian catastrophe, partners came to Crisis Action with the request that we engage.

    The unanimous view among the partners and experts we’ve consulted is that the single biggest impediment to peace is the lack of a coherent peace process. Various peace initiatives have been initiated and have stalled. A fundamental barrier cited is the ‘stalemate’ between DRC’s President Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s President Kagame who stands accused of backing the M23 rebel group – getting them to engage meaningfully at the negotiating table and to soften their postures is a crucial step to enabling the broader peace processes to progress.

    Listening carefully to partners and weighing up the options for impact, we decided to take up an emergency response over a limited time frame to secure the meaningful engagement of DRC’s President Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s President Kagame in negotiations.

    The campaign is convening a Pan-African coalition of partners (including Congolese voices) to directly engage and convince political decision-makers in the AU, and among influential member states in the region such as Kenya and South Africa, to commit to pressuring both Presidents to revive stalled negotiation efforts.

    This private advocacy is being supplemented by coordinated public campaigning in the lead up to the AU Summit in July, as a major opportunity for regional leaders to push for peace talks in the DRC to be revived. Partners are raising the profile and visibility of the DRC’s humanitarian crisis to contribute to a sense of urgency, momentum and pressure on AU and member state campaign targets.

    Emergency Response, Learning and Innovation Team (ERLI)

    Convening to determine a way forward on Haiti

    The newly formed ERLI team exists to boost Crisis Action’s ability to rapidly and effectively respond to emerging and escalating conflicts, and to drive improvements in the quality and impact of all future campaigning.

    In April, 54 participants joined a convening in response to the deteriorating security situation in Haiti. Multiple Haitian civil society representatives spoke, including women leaders, along with the country directors of the World Food Programme and World Vision, and an expert from the International Crisis Group. We have since supported attendees to connect on how the UN and wider international community can avoid the errors of past military interventions. Participants praised the initiative: ‘Excellent call! It’s so informative to hear from people who are directly affected by the conflict’, ‘Well done on truly centering Haitian voices’.

    The ERLI team’s work has also included an intensive review and distillation of lessons learned from 20 years of Crisis Action campaign evaluations, drawing on the collective wisdom of all our colleagues past and present to ensure that our work remains as impactful as it can be.