The US Treasury approves humanitarian exceptions in the sanctions imposed on Syria
The US Treasury Department approved a humanitarian exceptions in the sanctions imposed on Syria, to further enable the flow of aid that supports humanitarian needs to Syria.
The move, described by the Treasury Department as historic, follows the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2664, proposed by Ireland and the United States, to implement cuts to asset freeze provisions in UN sanctions programs.
A statement carried by the White House press service said that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control “will issue or amend general authorizations in sanctions on Syria, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to ensure a baseline of authorizations for the provision of humanitarian support across several sanctions programs”.
The US Treasury indicated that the package of permits issued or modified falls into four categories:
- Official business of the US government.
- The official business of some international organizations and entities, such as the United Nations or the International Red Cross.
- Some humanitarian transactions to support NGO activities, such as disaster relief, health services, activities to support democracy, education, environmental protection, and peace building.
- Agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices and their spare parts, components and software updates for personal and non-commercial use.
“The licenses issued reflect the United States’ commitment to ensuring continued access to humanitarian assistance and related trade to vulnerable populations, through legitimate and transparent channels, while maintaining the effective use of targeted sanctions,” said US Deputy Treasury Secretary Eli Addimo.
The US official added that sanctions “remain an essential tool of foreign policy,” stressing that “providing humanitarian support to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations is central to our American values”.
On December 11, the Security Council approved Resolution 2664, related to supporting humanitarian exceptions and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid through many sanctions regimes, including those of the United Nations and the United States.
At the time, the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, Ambassador Robert Wood, said the resolution “established a humanitarian exemption from asset freeze measures across the UN sanctions regimes,” adding that it “provides important safeguards to humanitarian actors in Syria, including those providing cross-border aid”.
“While we better fit these exceptions through UN and US sanctions, we make it clear that our sanctions should not impede humanitarian activity, or the provision of aid to all those in need,” the US diplomat claimed.