GoFundMe refusing to fund Syria relief effort, funding White Helmets
GoFundMe is refusing to send aid to Syria over sanctions from the US Treasury despite the devastating earthquake that struck the country earlier in the week.
GoFundMe, a proclaimed leading platform for fundraising, has been found to be complicit in the US-waged war on Syria, complying with US sanctions prohibiting aid from making it to the disaster-stricken country.
Several social media users went on Twitter to report on the issue after the fundraising firm suspended the fundraisers for Syria after the earthquake struck the country, with many highlighting the severe repercussions that the sanctions on Syria have been carrying for the Syrian health sector and rescue efforts.
GoFundMe suspended the fundraisers for Syria following the disaster earthquake. Once again & always the problem is the U.S. sanctions that target nobody but the most powerless & vulnerable & which are so harsh that companies everywhere overcomply w/ them to reduce risks for them. https://t.co/ljjMarDDOH— دايان (@jnoubiparigote) February 7, 2023
An activist, Kevork Almassian, the founder of Syriana Analysis, reported that the company "temporarily suspended our crowdfunding for the people affected by the earthquake in Syria!"
They claimed that they wanted to ensure that the aid was going to a humanitarian organization and that it was making it to its hands.
Go Fund Me temporarily suspended our crowdfunding for the people affected by the earthquake in Syria! They want to make sure it is going to a humanitarian organization and how.— Kevork Almassian🇸🇾🇦🇲 (@KevorkAlmassian) February 7, 2023
I'm trying to solve this case directly with Go Fund Me. This is a real test of their humanity! pic.twitter.com/fHer0SDCvA
Another user posted a screenshot of an email they received from GoFundMe saying: "Thank you for your efforts to help those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. GoFundMe is closely monitoring events in the region, and we are committed to helping people help those in need."
The twist came in the following paragraph, in which the email read: "As a U.S. company we are required to follow our Terms of Service, payment industry requirements, and applicable laws, including those set by the US Treasury Department, which prohibit GoFundMe from allowing fundraisers meeting this criteria to raise money on our platform."
"For this reason, we are writing to let you know that your GoFundMe account has been closed due to sanctions involving an unsupported country and a violation of the Prohibited Conduct section of our Terms of Service," the email concluded.
Read next: NYT makes U-turn after saying Syria can't receive aid due to sanctions
"I am absolutely disgusted and enraged by this," the user commented.
I am absolutely disgusted and enraged by this. I set up a Gofundme for my brother & his family who were impacted in the Syrian earthquake..& they closed my entire account because they won’t allow anyone to help Syria. That’s AmeriKKKa for you. #LiftSyriaSanctions #SyriaNeedsHelp pic.twitter.com/cYCzvMUNBf— 𝓈𝒽𝒾𝓂𝒶 🥀 (@shimalima_) February 9, 2023
Another user reported in German that they set up a GoFundMe and managed to collect some €10,000, but their bid to raise funds for Syria fell flat after the firm sent them an email informing them that the fundraiser was suspended "because you appear to be raising funds for a cause in a location currently subject to economic sanctions by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control) or other relevant Government agencies."
"We are not even allowed to donate to those in need. Unbelievable. I'm angry & speechless," the user said.
Wir haben fast 10.000€ gesammelt & dann passiert das, was passiert, wenn ein Land von den USA/dem Westen sanktioniert wird. Wir dürfen nicht mal an Hilfsbedürftige spenden. Unglaublich. Bin wütend & sprachlos. Geld bekommt ihr von GoFundMe zurück, wenn ich es nicht klären kann. pic.twitter.com/1TQRixl9Bt— Manaf Hassan (@manaf12hassan) February 7, 2023
Many other prominent activists, such as Max Blumenthal and Hadi Nasrallah highlighted the fact that the West was not allowing Syria to receive funds after having funded terrorist organizations in the country.
"Thanks to criminal Western sanctions, international cargo planes can not land at Syrian airports and Syrians can not use Gofundme or credit cards. Meanwhile, the US military occupies 1/3 of the country, stealing Syria’s oil - a key source of revenue it uses to buy food and aid," Blumenthal said on Twitter.
Thanks to criminal Western sanctions, international cargo planes can not land at Syrian airports and Syrians can not use Gofundme or credit cards.— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) February 7, 2023
Meanwhile, the US military occupies 1/3 of the country, stealing Syria’s oil - a key source of revenue it uses to buy food and aid. pic.twitter.com/1jFXfJB2I8
"GoFundMe is suspending fundraisers for Syrians in the regions under the “Sanctions act”. Aleppo included. Thousands of dollars have been frozen because someone somewhere in the US said Syrians must be punished," Nasrallah pointed out.
Countries were quick to send billions in arms and funds to terrorist “rebels” in Syria to fuel a war. Millions spent on propaganda, and platforms like GoFundMe facilitated cash flow for terror-affiliates. Now that Syria wants to recover from war and earthquake, they get sanctions— Hadi Nasrallah (@HadiNasrallah) February 7, 2023
All the while, as GoFundMe was prohibiting aid from making it into Syria, the fundraising organization was flaunting that more than $100,000 were raised to support the White Helmets, an NGO organization operating in Syria that has been accused of colluding with the West and terrorist organizations to commit and stage human rights violations in the country.
More than $100K has been raised to help support the White Helmets—Syria’s volunteer rescue workers who are working non-stop to rescue survivors from under the earthquake rubble: https://t.co/OjpOtH0TQf pic.twitter.com/7cJFs7u9kM— GoFundMe (@gofundme) February 8, 2023
This comes after the United Nations stressed on Thursday the need to avoid "politicization" of aid to earthquake victims in Syria and urged Washington and Brussels to ensure there were "no impediments".
Western countries are not providing necessary aid to the Syrian government, which is dealing with the fallout of the devastating earthquake, and only send them to areas in Syria that are controlled by militant terrorist groups, the Syrian Presidency's Special Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban said on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, the West only cares about areas where the terrorists are - where the White Helmets are - but they do not care about the areas in which most Syrian people live... Most of the money and all of the equipment have been dispatched to Turkey from Europe and from the US. Nothing to Syria from Europe, at all," Shaaban told British broadcaster Sky News.
This is happening as thousands, including children, are still calling for help from under the rubble in Syria. However, the rolling crises through which most Syrians are living didn't gain international support mainly due to the US draconian sanctions.
Moreover, officials say it will be years before the streetscapes of the stricken areas bear any resemblance to their old selves. As such, rebuilding is going to take a very long time. Some buildings may look okay from the outside. However, certain structural components might have been damaged to the extent that some of these buildings will have to be torn down; a process that alone could take years.
The crisis resulting from the war on Syria prompted civilians to seek refuge in damaged or somewhat destroyed buildings lacking basic infrastructure and services.
The war-stricken country's infrastructure is quite lacking, as a war that has lasted for more than a decade has ravaged the country's capabilities and eaten at its machinery and adequate equipment.
Terrorist groups and foreign aggression destroyed all of Syria's capabilities, from vehicles to cranes and bulldozers, among other equipment, at a time when the competent authorities need them because people are trapped under the rubble.
Earlier, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies said US draconian sanctions against Syria raise prices and hamper humanitarian operations.
In an interview for Sputnik, Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under-Secretary-General for Operations Coordination, said, "Sanctions do have these unintended consequences. And if I summarize, [it] increases the prices on everything that we do, takes more time to deliver the humanitarian services, it sometimes requires private supplies that could again increase the cost and there is this level of fear sometimes to facilitate the existing procedures [with regard to] sanctions."
It is noteworthy that in 2020, then-US President Donald Trump signed into law the so-called Caesar Act, under which Congress authorized severe economic sanctions against Syria. In accordance with the sanctions, anyone doing business with the Syrian authorities is potentially exposed to travel restrictions and financial sanctions.
The US claims that "the Caesar Act and other USW Syria sanctions do not target humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people" and that Washington will continue sending its alleged humanitarian assistance to Syrians. However, this was not the case following the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and was not mentioned anywhere in Biden's remarks.
To add salt to injury, Damascus International Airport is still undergoing repairs and maintenance following the most Israeli airstrike on the facility on January 2. The airport is the target of repeated Israeli occupation assaults and airstrikes that put it out of service. This fact cannot be ignored as any humanitarian aid to land in the country will definitely be hindered.
On Monday, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, killing thousands, mainly in Turkey and Syria, and leveling houses and other facilities, including public infrastructure.
The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Syria has risen to more than 2,800, while rescue teams continue extensive search efforts to find survivors under the rubble.
Following the earthquakes, several Western countries mobilized rapidly to send aid and rescue workers to Turkey but decided to exclude Syria and neglect it, by only offering condolences and merely expressing readiness to support the affected Syrians, with nothing done on the ground, in a clear show of double standards.
Read more: Western selective humanitarianism, Syria earthquake falls on deaf ears