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  • Crisis Action Update: March 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 Sudan, our campaign for the Sahel, and our strategic engagement on Russia. 

    Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory

    Harnessing a global coalition to demand a #CeasefireNOW

    Within hours of the 7 October attacks, Crisis Action helped securing alignment among humanitarian and human rights partners on a series of joint letters and appeals released to the media and shared directly with policymakers demanding action to protect all civilians.

    We worked with a dream team of partners and allies to launch the #CeasefireNOW campaign, which harnessed the power of more than 900 organisations from 95 countries. The campaign created online petitions promoted via a coordinated social media campaign and spurred protests throughout the world during the inspiring Global Day of Action on 18 December.

    In an initiative that made international headlines, we elevated the voices and perspectives of high-level representatives of humanitarian and human rights partners (including Amnesty International, Save the Children, Oxfam, Médecins du Monde, Norwegian Refugee Council and, in welcome step, Médecins Sans Frontières) in four separate online media briefings, each of which attracted more than 100 journalists from the world’s leading outlets.

    To allow journalists to connect to Palestinian voices on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, we helped establish a WhatsApp group (now with more than 700 members).

    We were proud to bring together partners to engage policymakers both online and in person in key capitals (including Washington, London, Paris and Addis Ababa). Policymakers praised the insights, personal stories and information from the ground provided by partners as a crucial addition to the information being received in capital.

    We continue to work with our partners call to build pressure for a ceasefire and release of the hostages. We are currently discussing with partners the possibility and prospects of launching a broader campaign to address the need for Palestinian self-determination with the end goal of a political solution that provides for the security of all civilians in IOPT and averts further regional conflagration.

    Pressure from the global coalition spurred by Crisis Action:

    * helped secure a 6-day humanitarian truce in late November 
    * helped sway governments to demand an immediate ceasefire and increase their pressure on Israel and its key ally, the United States 
    * influenced a shift in position from President Emmanuel Macron of France 
    * influenced a shift in position of a number of countries (including Canada, Australia and Japan) in the UN General Assembly ceasefire vote on 13 December  

    Crisis Action also supported partners to push back against calls to defund UNRWA, the UN body charged with providing services and protection to Palestinian refugees, when allegations surfaced that some of its staff had participated in the 7 October attacks.

    Collective partner efforts supported by Crisis Action were credited with having spurred the decision on 20 February by the AU Chair to suspend Israel’s observer status—a powerful diplomatic reprimand. In its case accusing Israel of perpetrating acts amounting to genocide at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, South Africa referred to information provided by Crisis Action’s partners in one of the media briefings coordinated over the past months.

    Sudan

    Working to silence the guns in one of the world’s most overlooked conflicts

    With international attention focused on Gaza, Crisis Action has worked with partners to draw some attention to the bitter and deadly fight in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

    Our dual-track strategy has focused on bringing together partners to (a) expose one of the key external drivers of the conflict, the United Arab Emirates which is providing material support for the Rapid Support Forces, and (b) strengthen regional mediation efforts in a push for a Sudanese-owned political transition.

    To support partners in exposing the UAE’s malign role in Sudan, we worked with the Women’s International Peace Centre on a joint open letter signed by 33 Sudanese and African women’s rights campaigners and global allies drawing attention to the brutal tactics of the UAE’s ally, the Rapid Support Forces, in particular its campaign of sexual violence against women and children. Delivered to 10 influential women with leadership roles at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28), the letter requested the recipients of the letter to show their solidarity with Sudanese women, using their social media platforms to publicly denounce the use of rape as a weapon of war in Sudan and to convey their concerns to the Emirati authorities.

    The letter was widely shared using our social media toolkit and the campaign #SpeakOutOnSudan hashtag reached more than 2.5 million users on X alone by 12 December. The letter was also taken up by regional media including the Continent and Daily Maverick.

    Crisis Action also supported two powerful op-eds that highlighted UAE’s role in Sudan: One by former Liberian president and Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for AJE and the Times (UK), highlighting “the UAE’s material support for the RSF as ‘the worst kept secret going right now’’’. The second, by partners Kholood Khair and Asmahan Akam in TIME magazine, highlighted that “the UAE, a U.N. Security Council member, backs the RSF in seeming violation of the body’s own arms embargo on Darfur”. Both op-eds raised the profile of the UAE’s actions in Sudan, viewed by over 165,000 readers online.

    The confirmation by a UN Panel of Experts on Sudan that the UAE has violated the international arms embargo in supporting the brutal Rapid Support Forces has added to the exposure of the UAE role.

    To strengthen mediation efforts, Crisis Action supported a delegation of Sudanese and regional partners to Addis Ababa, where they secured commitments from the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and AU-IGAD Expanded Mechanism for a Sudanese-led and owned peace process that would be dedicated to civilian protection, humanitarian access, coordinated peacebuilding efforts, and accountability for human rights violations.

    But as the situation continued to deteriorate in Sudan, we quickly supported partners to update recommendations to the AU, offering an array of ideas (including an AU Peacekeeping Mission, an arms embargo extending beyond Darfur, and targeted sanctions) that were delivered in person to PSC Ambassadors in South Africa. The Ambassadors of The Gambia, South Africa and Namibia described the recommendations as timely and important.

    Our partners’ input is credited with influencing the mandate and composition of a new AU High Level Panel.

    Crisis Action is currently scoping how to tackle the continued blocks to peace in Sudan for a possible new phase of the campaign.

    Sahel

    Supporting Sahelian civil society to better protect civilians

    On 28 January, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso announced they would pull out of regional block ECOWAS “with immediate effect”, marking a step further in the dramatic alliance overhaul in the region. The three countries of the Central Sahel, now all ruled by military governments, are reacting to the growing threat of armed groups by doubling down on a military-first response which has failed so far to restore security and has jeopardised civilian safety.

    As governments cracked down on civic space and media freedom in the Sahel, Crisis Action continued to support the People’s Coalition for the Sahel to become a fully independent entity that can influence policy in the region in the long term. This “autonomisation” project has just reached an important milestone with the recruitment of a first Coordinator for the Coalition, based in the region, who will start in April.

    As part of a campaign to demand more effective protection of civilians in the Sahel, Crisis Action helped facilitate advocacy meetings for Coalition members with policymakers from the African Union in September; from the UN office for West Africa (UNOWAS) in Dakar in October; from ECOWAS in Abuja in November; from the intergovernmental Coalition for the Sahel in Brussels in December; and from the European Union at the Munich Security Conference in February.

    The People’s Coalition has also had to invest more and more in ensuring the security of members at risk. A security focal point has been appointed, who provides monthly briefings about the security situation in the region. Crisis Action supported partners in a successful demand for the liberation of Burkinabè human rights defender Daouda Diallo, recipient of the Martin Ennals Prize, abducted in broad daylight in Ouagadougou on 1 December. In parallel, a social media campaign reaching more than 8million people online has drawn attention to the multiple cases of forced disappearances in Burkina Faso and the dramatic shrinking of civic space.

    The work of the People’s Coalition for the Sahel was featured in the January 2024 edition of the Global Protection Cluster’s podcast “Advocating for Protection”, produced by Oxfam.

    Emergency Response, Learning and Innovation team (ERLI)

    Boosting our ability to respond to new and emerging situations

    In January, we were excited to boost the ERLI team capacity, retaining the talent of our outgoing Interim UK Director Sarah Carson in the new role of Head of ERLI. Sarah will play a key part in boosting Crisis Action’s ability to respond to new and emerging situations, first with more ‘rapid response’ convenings to help both Crisis Action and our partners and allies to scope possible responses to save lives. The second area is to boost our learning with and from our partners and our work.

    In the past few weeks, the team has also been monitoring escalations in the Middle East (e.g. Houthi attacks and US/UK response in the Red Sea; attacks by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iraq and Syria; Iran and Pakistan tensions), ready to activate global convenings as necessary. The team is also supporting cross campaign learning and progressing our thinking on next generation impact measurement in our work.