A combination of US counter-terrorist financing law and international sanctions set the stage for humanitarian aid delivery challenges in Syria. On top of that, the largest Syrian banks are sanctioned by the various countries, including the US, and the banking system outside of government control has collapsed. The countries bordering Syria (Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan) present additional challenges in the form of regulatory requirements and financial systems. All of this has created “a complex environment for aid agencies wishing to move funds for humanitarian purposes into the country, or through neighbouring states supporting regional humanitarian efforts,” according to a new report from the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute and The Humanitarian Forum, The impact of bank de-risking on the humanitarian response to the Syrian Crisis.
This environment has made it difficult for aid groups to to pay local staff and suppliers and run their programs, and has increased their costs, the report states. Among the 60 organizations interviewed for this report:
The authors conclude that bank derisking has reduced the cash available to the NGO community at any given point by at least 35% and that these funds remain unavailable for between three and five months longer than was historically the case. To alleviate these problems, the authors recommend the following: