884. Do non-U.S. persons, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign financial institutions, risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (Caesar Act) for activities that would be authorized under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR)?
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 Act if U.S. persons would not require a specific license from OFAC to participate in such a transaction. Accordingly, non-U.S. persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Act for engaging in activity, or facilitating transactions and payments for such activity, that is authorized for U.S. persons under a general license (GL) issued pursuant to the SySR. For a list of GLs within the SySR related to humanitarian assistance and trade with Syria, please see OFAC’s April 16, 2020 Fact Sheet: Provision of Humanitarian Assistance and Trade to Combat COVID-19. Further, Section 7425 of the Caesar Act codifies, with some exceptions, the general license in § 542.516 of the SySR that authorizes certain services in support of NGOs. Additionally, Section 7432 of the Caesar Act includes a humanitarian waiver for activities not otherwise covered by GL § 542.516 of the SySR.
Please note that this guidance with respect to non-U.S. persons does not apply to transactions and activities that may be subject to sanctions under other sanctions programs administered by OFAC (e.g., transactions with blocked persons designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 (OFAC’s counterterrorism authority) or E.O. 13894 (OFAC’s Syria-related authority)), unless exempt or otherwise permitted by OFAC.
885. May U.S. and non-U.S. persons, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign financial institutions, provide or facilitate certain humanitarian assistance to Syria without the risk of sanctions?
Yes. The export of U.S.-origin food and most medicines to Syria is not prohibited and does not require a Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) or OFAC license (see 31 CFR § 542.510, 15 CFR § 746.9, and Syria FAQ 229), and therefore non-U.S. persons would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (Caesar Act) for engaging in such activity. See FAQ 884. For questions specific to transactions involving items subject to the Export Administration Regulations destined to Syria, please contact the BIS Foreign Policy Division at Foreign.Policy@bis.doc.gov. Additionally, U.S. persons providing services ordinarily incident to the export or reexport of certain non-U.S.-origin food and most medicines to Syria is not prohibited and does not require an OFAC specific license (see 31 CFR § 542.525), and therefore non-U.S. persons would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Act for engaging in such activity. 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.
OFAC remains committed to ensuring that humanitarian assistance can flow to the people of Syria and maintains a favorable policy supporting the provision of humanitarian assistance. Treasury continues to support the critical work of governments, certain international organizations, NGOs, and individuals delivering food, medicine, medical supplies, and humanitarian assistance to civilians in Syria. In an effort to ensure assistance reaches those in need, we encourage individuals, companies, or financial institutions who have questions about engaging in or processing transactions related to these authorizations, to contact OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.