Treasury Issues License to Permit Humanitarian Aid in Syria

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October 3, 2011

On Sept. 26, 2011 the Department of Treasury issued a “General License” that permits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to provide services in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited under Executive Order 13582, signed by President Barack Obama on Aug. 17, 2011. It blocks assets of the Syrian government that are located in the U.S. and prohibits a wide range of financial and trade transactions, including humanitarian aid. The General License lists specific NGO activities that are permitted without the need to go through Treasury's lengthy Specific License process.   

The General License allows NGOs "to export or reexport services to Syria that would otherwise be prohibited…. in support of the following non-for-profit activities:"
"(1) Activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Syria, including, but not limited to, drought relief, assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims, food and medicine distribution, and the provision of health services;
(2) Activities to support democracy building in Syria, including, but not limited to, rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, and civil society development projects:
(3) Activities to support education in Syria, including, but not limited to, combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, and assisting education reform projects; and
(4) Activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Syrian people, including, but not limited to, preventing infectious disease and promoting maternal/child health, sustainable agriculture, and clean water assistance."
To make delivery of such services feasible, the General License permits NGOs to "engage in transactions with the Government of Syria that are necessary for the activities authorized…" This includes payment of fees, obtaining permits and similar logistical arrangements. 
NGOs have been seeking a similar General License for famine aid in Somalia, but to date there has been no response from Treasury