Switzerland eases sanctions on Syria
The Swiss government states decides to ease sanctions on Syria "to provide humanitarian assistance or support to the civilian population."
Switzerland decided Friday to ease its sanctions on Syria to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, especially to those affected by the devastating February 6 earthquake, after similar measures taken by the United States and the European Union.
Up to now, humanitarian organizations receiving federal funding for their activities on Syrian lands could obtain exceptions for financial transactions to provide humanitarian assistance.
The government said in a statement that these exceptions have now been extended "to provide humanitarian assistance or support to the civilian population."
“Humanitarian actors in receipt of federal funding may now provide money and economic resources directly or indirectly to designated persons, entities and businesses, when necessary to provide humanitarian assistance or support to the civilian population,” according to a press release.
An exception scheme has also been set up for humanitarian actors that do not receive federal funding, provided it is for humanitarian work or providing aid to the civilian population in Syria.
It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned on Thursday that 3.7 million children in earthquake-affected Syria face a catastrophic combination of threats, after the devastating earthquake that struck the country.
Syria refers to US temporary sanctions waiver as ‘misleading’
Due to the current logistical difficulties following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria and following an international outcry, the US has decided to issue a six-month sanctions exemption on Syria for all disaster relief-related transactions, but Syria has dismissed the US sanctions waiver as "misleading".
“The misleading decision taken by the US administration to temporarily ease some of the cruel and unilateral sanctions on the Syrian nation is out of sham and hypocrisy and is no different from previous gestures meant to convey an erroneous humanitarian impression. While the sanctions waiver is proclaimed to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, the realities on the ground prove the opposite,” the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement last month.
It added, “US coercive measures and policies have deprived Syrians of their natural wealth, which is being plundered, and have created obstacles for state institutions to improve living standards, implement development projects and achieve targeted goals, and provide basic services.”
Minimal Western aid to Syria, despite temporary lift of sanctions
Although some Western countries pledged support for Syria, realities on the ground prove the opposite, as only militant-controlled areas have received Western aid so far.
The abstention of the West comes despite Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, stressing the need to avoid "politicization" of aid to earthquake victims in Syria and urging Washington and Brussels to ensure there were "no impediments".
Pedersen told reporters in Geneva that aid is needed to get to Syrian state-controlled areas, as well as those controlled by militants.
"Certain" sanctions on Syria must be lifted in order for the international community to deliver essential goods to address peoples' urgent needs in the aftermath of Monday's earthquake, underlined Corinne Fleischer, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.