UK makes it easier for aid agencies in Syria to avoid breaching sanctions

Britain said on Wednesday it was issuing two new licences to make it easier for aid agencies helping earthquake relief efforts to operate in Syria without breaching sanctions aimed at the government of President Bashar al-Assad and its backers.

The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria from last week’s earthquake has climbed above 41,000, and millions are in need of humanitarian aid, with many survivors having been left homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.

In Syria, relief efforts have been hampered by a civil war that has splintered the country and divided regional and global powers.

The British government said the temporary new licences would “strengthen the timely and effective delivery of relief efforts by removing the need for individual licence applications”.

“UK sanctions do not target humanitarian aid, food, or medical supplies, but we recognise that the current requirements for individual licencing are not always practical during a crisis response,” Minister of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said in a statement.

The licences provide broad protection to organizations to allow them to operate by authorising activities which would have otherwise been prohibited. Earlier Britain announced a further 25 million pounds ($30 million) of aid to help the earthquake recovery effort.

Source: SABC

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