Syria (2011- present)
“Crisis Action’s efforts to build personal connections with the independent Russian media have created invaluable partnerships based on mutual trust and respect. Their work has enabled us to humanise Russia’s involvement in Syria, allowing the Russian public to see ordinary Syrians not as abstract entities, but as living, breathing people working hard for peace and justice.” – Olga Bobrova, Journalist, Novaya Gazeta
Since March 2011, Crisis Action has led a global coordinated response to the war in Syria. The war which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and forced over 10 million people to flee their home in terror has spurred Crisis Action to support collaborative work to push for stronger action by parties to the conflict, the UN, the Arab League and the EU to further civilian protection.
Crisis Action’s current Syria strategy has two main objectives. Firstly, to prevent major escalation and ensure humanitarian needs are met in the North-West by keeping media and political attention on the plight of civilians in Idlib. Secondly, to raise pressure for progress on the release of detainees and truth for families, with an immediate focus on the need to improve access to places of detention, access to information on the missing, and the release of all of those who are being arbitrarily detained.
Crisis Action has worked with partners to devise and deliver joint advocacy to:
- Help secure a landmark UN Security Council Resolution authorizing the cross-border delivery of aid into Syria, the first time the UN mandated that aid be delivered into a country against its will;
- Highlight the plight of Syrians to publics around the world through the #WithSyria coalition and in doing so elevating the voices of Syrians affected by the conflict;
- Convince the Arab League to adopt targeted measures against Syria such as an arms embargo, asset freeze and suspension of Syria’s membership of the League.
- Marked the fourth anniversary of the conflict in 2015 with the “Turn the Lights Back On” campaign which launched satellite images showing 83% of night time light had gone out in Syria since 2011.
- Supported one of the last remaining doctors in Aleppo to launch a petition on Change.org calling on world leaders to Save Aleppo which amassed over 750,000 signatures.
- Designed and delivered an impact campaign to accompany Academy Award winning documentary Last Men In Aleppo, in which all MPs in France, the UK and Germany were delivered bespoke websites detailing what their constituency would look like had the tragedy of Aleppo happened there.
- Supported a group of eminent jurists to issue a set of ten principles donors must uphold under international law should they consider support for reconstruction, providing legal support to key states in considering the basis for reconstruction funding
- Supported Syrian doctors to travel to Europe and New York to tell policymakers about targeted attacks on their hospitals, facilitating a briefing to the UN Security Council and working to convince the UN Secretary-General to open an investigation into the bombing of UN-supported facilities in North West Syria (2019)
- Ahead of a donor conference in Brussels in February 2019, supported Syrian and international organisations to brief diplomats, parliamentarians and the media on the situation of detainees. The conference declaration upheld their recommendations, and in August 2019, for the first time ever, two former Syrian detainees briefed the UN Security Council on their experiences. Crisis Action will prioritize advocacy and campaigns on this issue.
- Coordinated a partner campaign calling on Pope Francis to use his influence with Russian President Putin, reaching almost seven million people and resulting in the Pope sending a letter to Putin asking him for “concrete initiatives on behalf of Syrian population,” including the protection of civilians in Idlib (2019)
- Organised a two-day roundtable in Beirut to connect Russian journalists to Syrian civil society and foster collaboration between them, resulting in increased media coverage inside Russia on Russia’s role and actions in Syria.
- Facilitated trips by Russian human rights defenders and journalists to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Europe to met and interview Syrian survivors and witnesses to war crimes and human rights violations. Following one of these trips, key independent media published an extensive front-page report – the first in a series – arguing that Russia’s support for the Assad regime was untenable and should end. This has resulted in a measurable increase of critical media and civil society reports inside Russia on Syria, and a parallel decline in Russian public support for Russia’s involvement in Syria.