What we’ve learned about how to send donations to Syrian earthquake victims

Feb 17, 2023

Dear Friends,

First, as we reported previously, the large, well-funded US-supported organizations are providing aid only in occupied areas of Syria, mainly under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates.

They are getting the vast majority of US and western donations because they are heavily promoted by the western governments and their mainstream press. Of course, they never mention that they don’t provide aid to government-controlled areas, where the vast majority of Syrians live and which have been under onerous US and international sanctions, resulting in few resources with which to meet the emergency. Here are some of the main ones, which most Syrians consider useless and irrelevant at best, and supporters of their al-Qaeda terrorists at worst:

  • The White Helmets (al-Qaeda’s MASH corps in Syria)
  • Syrian American Medical Society (also loyal to al-Qaeda)
  • Doctors without Borders (good work in other parts of the world but on al-Qaeda’s side in Syria)
  • International Rescue Committee (rescuing terrorists and their families)

But what about sanctions relief? But didn’t the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issue General License 23, suspending sanctions? Can’t money flow to Syria now?

Sanctions have been a major impediment to humanitarian aid, and we have found that GL23 is a bad joke. In order to collect donations and receive aid, Syrian financial institutions need links with western banking institutions.

Are the main international banks in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt going to suddenly treat Syrian banks like the rest of the banking community? GL23 is only for 180 days, and then reverts to full sanctions. And even now, the only sanctions being lifted are on a case by case basis and only for earthquake relief applications. Who’s going to decide which transactions are for earthquake relief? Why would a bank risk being fined for a wrong decision? As a result, GL23 has made almost no difference. And that was obviously the intention.

***

Western Union and MoneyGram are currently the only means we have found to send money directly from the US, Canada and probably other countries. But they are allowing transactions to individuals only, not humanitarian aid organizations, and in very limited amounts. Western Union has allowed us to send up to $2000 twice, but their office in Syria would not honor the transaction unless we resent it in amounts less than $1000.

But we don’t give up. The donations that you send to the Syria Support Movement are making their way to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Mosaic for Human Relief and Development and the Social Unity Society, rescuing, saving, housing and feeding the victims in Latakia, Hama, Aleppo and other affected regions. Furthermore, we believe that we have found the most efficient way to deliver the funds, starting with 99-cent rapid transfers of thousands of dollars to countries from which forwarding to Syria is equally fast and efficient. Thus far we have sent $11,000, which is somewhat more than we have received in donations, but we are confident that your donations will catch up and hopefully enable us to send much more. You can reach our site at aidtosyrians.org and our donation page directly at https://syriasupportmovement.org/donate-2/

Give to SSM Today

Finally, we have a couple of other recommended avenues of donation, especially if you are not in the US. Those of you in the UK can go to https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8Ro39rlLlt and if you are in the Eurozone, a good option is Victims of Earthquake Feb.6th, organized by Hanin Elias. When possible, we recommend donating to a site that uses the same currency as yours, because currency conversion entails a loss of some of the donation.

We also welcome any suggestions or information that you think may be useful to others receiving this newsletter, in which case you can reach us at: solidarity@syriasolidaritymovement.org

Thank you for your support,

The SSM Team

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