EU extends humanitarian exemption in Syria sanctions for six months to allow aid delivery

Sanctions were put in place in 2011 and took aim at the regime and its supporters

A Syrian woman and her two children in the Latakia governorate, where they live in a temporary shelter for people displaced by the February earthquake. PA
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The EU has extended an exemption to sanctions against Syria to allow for the speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance for another six months, a statement said on Friday.

The bloc wants to “continue responding in a timely manner to the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and to keep facilitating the rapid delivery of aid” following the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, the European Council said.

The exemption from the asset freeze and from the related prohibition on making funds and economic resources available to listed people and entities aims to “further facilitate the operations of international organisations and certain defined categories of actors involved in humanitarian activities in Syria”.

The sanctions against Syria were put in place in 2011 and took aim at the regime and its supporters.

They do not prohibit the export of food, medicines or medical equipment by the EU to Syria, and they do not affect Syria's healthcare system, the EU said.

“The council remains deeply concerned about the situation in Syria, where the conflict is far from over and remains a source of suffering for the civilian population, and instability for the country and the region,” it said.

In June, an EU conference in Brussels aimed at supporting the future of Syria raised about $6 billion to provide a range of aid and services to the war-torn country.

However, following the earthquake that killed more than 5,000 in February, various Syrian officials have said that sanctions were severely hampering relief efforts.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said at the time that sanctions were “causing the death of people under the rubble”.

Last April, the EU adopted additional sanctions against people and organisations associated with the Syrian regime.

They fall under three categories: sanctions against those responsible for the production and trade in Captagon drugs, sanctions against perpetrators of human rights abuses, and sanctions due to economic deals with Russia.

Updated: July 14, 2023, 6:12 PM