The Assad regime and its supporters, as well as industries where the regime was making money, are the targets of EU sanctions in force regarding Syria. The sanctions policy does not forbid the EU from exporting goods to Syria, including food, medicine, or medical equipment, and it does not target Syria’s healthcare system. To ensure the ongoing delivery of humanitarian aid to any area of the nation, the sanctions regime contains a comprehensive humanitarian exception.
The conflict in Syria, which is far from over and is still a cause of pain and instability, continues to worry the Council greatly. The tragic earthquake of February 6, 2023 has caused even more hardship for the people of Syria.
The EU and its member states are leading donors of humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict in Syria. Since 2011, the total amount of humanitarian funding from the European Union and its member states for the Syria crisis (Syria plus neighbouring countries) is €27.4 billion. Since the devastating earthquakes, the EU and its member states have already provided €5.5 million to address the most urgent needs, in additional humanitarian aid to all affected areas.
In view of the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in Syria exacerbated by the earthquake, the Council decided today to adopt an additional humanitarian amendment to further facilitate the speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The amendment applies for a period of six months.
With this amendment, the EU has waived the need for humanitarian organisations to seek prior permission from EU member states national competent authorities to make transfers or provide goods and services intended for humanitarian purposes to listed persons and entities.
In its conclusions of 9 February 2023, the European Council extended its deepest condolences to the victims of the tragic earthquake of 6 February 2023 and expressed its solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria. The EU reaffirmed its readiness to provide further assistance to alleviate the suffering in all affected regions. It called on all to ensure humanitarian access to the victims of the earthquake in Syria irrespective of where they are and called the humanitarian community, under the auspices of the United Nations, to ensure the speedy delivery of aid.
On the day of the earthquake, the EU activated the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to coordinate EU support measures in response to the earthquake, while on 8 and 9 February 2023 respectively, the Syrian authorities and the World Food Programme in Syria requested to activate the EU civil protection mechanism.
Ten EU countries have already offered tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, beds, food items and winter clothing. In addition, the EU has so far provided €3.5 million in humanitarian assistance to cover the most urgent needs, such as cash for shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, health, and search and rescue.
The EU’s sanctions regime was introduced in 2011 in response to the violent repression of the Syrian population by the Syrian regime and those linked to it and includes 291 persons targeted by both an assets freeze and a travel ban, and 70 entities subject to an assets freeze.