Survey: Counterterrorism Laws Impede Aid Delivery in Syria

Delivering humanitarian aid in Syria is more difficult because Western counterterrorism laws have forced aid organizations to avoid communities controlled by extremist groups. Consequently, vulnerable populations are more at greater risk of radicalization, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found. 

In addition, government donors and banks are requesting more in-depth audits since ISIS took control, adding time and cost to humantarian missions in Syria. According to the Syrian NGO alliance, a consortium of 90 NGOs working in the country, organizations have been forced to cancel projects because they could not keep up with the additional paperwork. 

Data from the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey revealed that the bureaucratic workload had risen by an average of 7,000 extra man hours per charity in the two years since ISIS had taken root, the equivalent of three full-time staff. One charity said the cost of compliance reporting had doubled since March 2014.

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Humanitarian Overview Looks Ahead to 2016

Date: 
December 23, 2015

Armed conflicts have been the greatest driver of prolonged humanitarian need, according to the Global Humanitarian Overview 2016, a publication of the Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch (PRMB) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Crises are becoming more protracted and displacement levels are unprecedented due to the lack of durable political solutions,” the report states, adding that nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have had to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. The crisis in Syria, perhaps the most profound conflict worldwide, is in its fifth year. During 2015, more than 830,000 refugees and migrants fled to Europe, approximately half of them from Syria.

UN HLR Highlights Impact of Sanctions on Humanitarian Work

Date: 
December 14, 2015

A new High Level Review Compendium Report shows a changing attitude towards the effect of UN sanctions on counter-terrorism and humanitarian action. The report indicates a need to redefine and reinforce UN sanctions, as well as a greater concern for the protection of humanitarian work.

The High Level Review (HLR) is a member state-led process supported by academics and consultants specializing in the UN Security Council and sanctions. The process, inaugurated in 2014 and conducted over the course of a year, was sponsored by Australia, Finland, Germany, Greece and Sweden, and has involved consultations with a broad range of member states, UN agencies, sanctions committees, and other stakeholders. The HLR intends to “examine the way sanctions are integrated into the UN’s collective security framework, the relationship between UN sanctions and external institutions and instruments related to peace and security, and emerging challenges,” the report states.

Study: Hanging By a Thread- The Ongoing Threat to Somalia's Remittance Lifeline

Date: 
February 23, 2015

On Feb. 19, 2015, Adeso, the Global Center on Cooperative Security and Oxfam, released Hanging by a Thread: The Ongoing Threat to Somalia’s Remittance Lifeline, which details how bank account closures impact many Somalians who depend on remittances,  in order to fulfill basic survival needs and invest in small businesses.  Remittances are handled by Money Transfer Operations (MTOs) who rely on banks to transfer the funds internationally. Due to the poor financial regulation, the presence of terrorist-listed groups in Somalia and a strict regulatory environment, several principle banks have closed their accounts with MTOs that serve Somalia, essentially, curtailing the flow of remittances sent by family members to help Somalians overseas. In response to public pressure and collective campaigns, the U.S. government has taken modest steps to help the Somali remittance system, but it is “startlingly unprepared to manage the potential fallout” of account closures.  In Australia and the United Kingdom the response has also be slow. This report notes that failure to uphold the remittance system could result in black market and illegal money transfer systems that would increase the lack of accountability for transfer operators. It suggests practical steps that governments and actors within the international community should take to sustain the Somali money transfer system as well as the long-term solutions required to establish viable financial institutions within Somalia.  The report is a follow up to the 2013 report Keeping the Lifeline Open: Remittances and Markets in Somalia

Report: How Civil Society Engagement can help the UN Peacebuilding’s Architecture Meet its Purpose

Date: 
August 7, 2015

In April 2015, the Quaker United Nations Group and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict released a report titled How Civil Society Engagement can help the UN Peacebuilding’s Architecture Meet its Purpose. In addition to reviewing the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA), the report explains how civil society is a vital link to the UN peacebuilding efforts as it helps the UN better understand the people and communities they serve.

Report Highlights Conflict Between Counterterrorism Laws and Humanitarian Action

Date: 
October 14, 2015

Measures intended to protect the world from terrorism intensify the difficulties for humanitarians in those same areas where terrorists operate. States have found it difficult to create a way for counterterrorism measures and humanitarian principles can co-exist, according to a new research briefing report from the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Suppressing Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action: A Provisional Framework for Analyzing State Practice

When Talking Women, Peace and Security, Let’s Talk U.S. Laws that Get in the Way

Date: 
August 24, 2015
Author: 
Andrea Hall

Your village was just attacked by an armed extremist group. You husband decides to take up arms to fight the terrorists and is ultimately killed. You’re left with three young children, your elderly mother, and no income. You can’t grow food because you can’t get water. You can’t get water because the road to the river is blocked by the armed extremists, who still threaten your village. They’ve started going after the widows, demanding to be fed and housed by them, under threat of rape or even death.

UN Humanitarian Chief Warns of Chilling Impact Created by Counterterror Measures in Syria

Date: 
July 3, 2014

UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos criticized counterterrorism laws that create a chilling impact on humanitarian organizations working in places like Syria. In a July 1 BBC 4 radio segment, Amos argued that overboard restrictions in the name of countering terror are exacerbating the crisis. “Our humanitarian response has been slowed down in some areas and stopped altogether, and ultimately, people will die” said Amos.

New Study: Somalia's Remittance Lifeline- Hanging By a Thread

February 23, 2015

Adeso, the Global Center on Cooperative Security and Oxfam, released Hanging by a Thread: The Ongoing Threat to Somalia’s Remittance Lifeline, which details how bank account closures impact many Somalians who depend on remittances from friends and family abroad in order to fulfill basic survival needs and invest in small businesses.  Remittances are handled by Money Transfer Operations (MTOs) who rely on banks to transfer the funds to Somalia. 

Due to the poor financial regulation, the presence of terrorist-listed groups in Somalia and a strict regulatory environment, several principle banks have closed their accounts with MTOs that serve Somalia, essentially, curtailing the flow of remittances sent by family members to help Somalians overseas. In response to public pressure and collective campaigns, the U.S. government has taken modest steps to help the Somali remittance system, but it is “startlingly unprepared to manage the potential fallout” of account closures.

This report notes that failure to uphold the remittance system could result in black market and illegal money transfer systems that would increase the lack of accountability for transfer operators. It suggests practical steps that governments and actors within the international community should take to sustain the Somali money transfer system as well as the long-term solutions required to establish viable financial institutions within Somalia. 

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