On August 8, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued the OFAC Compliance Communique: Guidance for the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to Syria (the “Guidance”). The Guidance responds to specific questions that OFAC received from the non-governmental organization (“NGO”) community and the general public related to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. In addition, OFAC amended Frequently Asked Question 937 (“FAQ 937”) related to the Syria NGO general license (“GL”).
OFAC published the Guidance the same day that GL 23 expired, which authorized transactions related to earthquake relief efforts in Syria. The Guidance replaces the previous humanitarian assistance factsheet available on OFAC’s website, as discussed in our previous blog post here.
The Guidance summarizes key exemptions and GLs authorizing humanitarian-related activities in Syria:
- The NGO GL, which authorizes certain services, transactions, and activities in support of NGO not-for-profit activities.
- The International Organizations GL, which authorizes all transactions and activities that are for the conduct of the official business of the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies, Programmes, Funds, and Related Organizations.
- The exemption for US Government official business and US Government GL, which authorizes transactions for the official business of US Government employees, grantees, or contractors.
- GL 22, which authorizes certain economic activity in non-regime held areas in Northeast and Northwest Syria. Our previous blog post on GL 22 is available here.
- The Remittances GL, which authorizes US persons to send noncommercial, personal remittances (not including charitable donations) to Syria or individuals ordinarily resident in Syria, subject to certain conditions.
The Guidance also answers questions related to (i) donating money and raising funds for humanitarian efforts in Syria, (ii) NGOs providing support to humanitarian projects in Syria, (iii) UN and US Government humanitarian activities, (iv) sending money or goods to people in Syria, and (v) activities involving the Government of Syria or foreign governments in Syria.
Revised FAQ 937
FAQ 937 explains that the NGO GL continues to authorize certain transactions and activities in support of NGO not-for-profit activities in Syria, including (i) humanitarian projects that meet basic human needs, (ii) democracy-building, (iii) education, (iv) non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people, and (v) the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.
Notably, OFAC clarifies that the NGO GL also authorizes US depository institutions, US registered brokers or dealers in securities, and US registered money transmitters to process transfers of funds in support of authorized transactions and activities.