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226. How can I help the Syrian people while making sure to abide by the U.S. sanctions?


Recognizing that the Syrian people need many critical services and goods, OFAC has issued several general licenses that, among other things, allow all U.S. persons to send non-commercial, personal remittances to Syrian persons without needing to apply to OFAC for a separate or specific license. Moreover, U.S. persons may donate humanitarian goods like food and medicine to people in Syria, as long as such donations are consistent with Commerce and OFAC regulations.

Finally, OFAC has also issued a general license to allow nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to engage in not-for-profit activities in Syria in support of humanitarian projects, democracy-building, education, and non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people. Copies of all OFAC general licenses issued for Syria can be found on OFAC's Syria Sanctions program page. For any activities that fall outside of these general licenses, specific authorization from OFAC would be required, unless the transactions fall within a small category that are exempt from regulation by statute.

As mentioned above, one of the goals of the U.S. sanctions on Syria is to reinforce the President’s call for Bashar al-Assad to step down and to disrupt the Assad regime’s ability to finance its campaign of violence against the Syrian people. OFAC can issue a specific license to authorize particular transactions that may otherwise be prohibited by the sanctions, as long as those transactions are in the foreign policy interests of the United States. For example, specific licenses may be issued on a case-by case basis to authorize charitable donations of funds that would otherwise be prohibited by the Syrian sanctions regime.