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867. Can U.S. and non-U.S. persons provide humanitarian assistance to Syria following the identification of the Central Bank of Syria (CBoS) on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List)?


Yes.  The identification of the CBoS on the SDN List does not trigger new prohibitions; existing general and specific licenses under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR), 31 C.F.R. Part 542, continue to apply as they did previously.  U.S. persons may continue engaging with the CBoS in connection with humanitarian assistance and certain other trade with Syria authorized by the SySR or exempt from regulation, including:  § 542.510 (Exports or reexports to Syria of items licensed or otherwise authorized by the Department of Commerce authorized; exports or reexports of certain services authorized); § 542.513 (Official activities of certain international organizations authorized); § 542.516 (Certain services in support of nongovernmental organizations’ activities authorized); and § 542.525 (Exportation or reexportation of services to Syria related to the exportation or reexportation of certain non-U.S.-origin goods authorized).  Of note, the export of U.S.-origin food and most medicines to Syria is not prohibited and does not require a Commerce or OFAC license (see 31 CFR § 542.510 and Syria FAQ 229), and U.S. persons can continue engaging with the CBoS in connection with these transactions.  For more information on the most relevant exemptions, exceptions, and authorizations for humanitarian assistance and trade under the Syria sanctions program, please see OFAC’s April 16, 2020 Fact Sheet: Provision of Humanitarian Assistance and Trade to Combat COVID-19 (this content is no longer available).   

In addition, OFAC may issue specific licenses to authorize certain transactions involving U.S. persons or the U.S. financial system that may otherwise be prohibited by OFAC sanctions, provided those transactions are in the foreign policy interests of the United States.  OFAC has a longstanding licensing policy supporting the provision of humanitarian assistance 

With respect to non-U.S. persons, OFAC will not consider transactions to be “significant” for the purpose of a sanctions determination under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (Caesar Act) if U.S. persons would not require a specific license from OFAC to participate in such a transaction.  Accordingly, non-U.S. persons would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Act for engaging in activity with the CBoS that is authorized for U.S. persons under a general license in the SySR, such as transactions involving the provision of humanitarian assistance or export of humanitarian goods to Syria.  Further, the Caesar Act codifies, with some exceptions, the general license in § 542.516 of the SySR that authorizes certain services in support of nongovernmental organizations, and includes a humanitarian waiver.  

OFAC remains committed to ensuring that humanitarian assistance can flow to the people of Syria.  Treasury continues to support the critical work of governments, certain international organizations, non-profit organizations, and individuals delivering food, medicine, medical supplies, and humanitarian assistance to civilians in Syria.  If individuals, companies, or financial institutions have questions about engaging in or processing transactions related to these authorizations, they can contact OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490. 

Date Released
December 22, 2020