Assad regime ‘siphons’ millions in aid’ by manipulating the Syrian currency | global development

the Syrian government is transferring off millions of dollars of foreign aid by forcing UN agencies use a lower stock market rate, according to new research.

The Central Bank of Syria, which is sanctioned by the UK, US and EU, in effect made $60 million (£44 million) in 2020 by $0.51 in to put the bag of any help dollar sent to Syria to make UN contracts one of the biggest money-making roads for President Bashar al-Assad and his government, researchers of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Operations & Policy Center think tank and the Centre for Operational analysis and research found.

Hit by new US Sanctions and the Collapse of banking system in neighboring Lebanon, cash-tied Damascus trusts more and more on unorthodox methods for to collect money – money either in the bag by officials in Damascus for their own personal wealth, of spent on the 10-year-ancient war effort.

Researchers analyzed hundreds of UN contracts to purchase goods and services for people living in government-occupied territories of Syria, where? more than 90% of the population are alive in poverty since the crash of the Syrian pound of the lira last year.

While the central bank’s official stock exchange rate is now SYP2,500 to USA dollar, the black market rate is SYP 3,500. Legitimate traders and consumers prefer: use the black market rate, as they receive more Syrian Pounds for Foreign currency.

Since the UN is forced by the Syrians government until use the official rate, half of foreign aid money exchanged in Syrian Pounds in 2020 was lost after being exchanged for the lower, official rate.

“This shows an incredibly systematic way of diversion help before it even has one chance to implement of to use on the ground,” said Natasha Hall, of the CSIS, a in Washington-based think tank die helped put together the research.

Assad regime ‘siphons’ millions in    aid’ by manipulating the Syrian currency |  global development
Syrian Central bank employees count SYR1,000 notes, met Hafez al-Assad, ex-president and father of bashar, in 2010. The government makes millions take advantage of the gap between the official and black market rate for the coin. Photo: Hussein Malla/AP

“As the goal of sanctions in general is to rob the regime of the means to commit acts of violence against burgers and the goal of humanitarian aid is available people in need then we have this example … where there is help complete contradiction met die two stated goals.”

After 10 years of civil war in Syria, international donor fatigue, already seen in declining aid pledges, has switched to more overt political re-engagement with Assad’s regime.

Without the US playing a strong role in find a political solution in Syria, which Washington still publicly advocates, Arab countries — including US-affiliated Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — recently resumed diplomatic talks, reopened borders for trade and signaled renewed economic cooperation.

The United States allows Damascus to play An important role in Pipe Egyptian gas to Lebanon until power the country’s fuel is exhausted power plants. Interpol allowed Syria to rejoin its network even if fate of dissidents captured during the war remains unknown.

779 in investigating publicly available tenders for 2019 and 2020, mention on the UN Global Marketplace database, researchers found Which up until $100 million was lost in the exchange rate.

As salaries, cash-utilities and other cash flows do not made public were included, the bank could make hundreds of millions of dollar, according to researchers.

Funding has been channeled various UN agencies – the Bureau for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the World Food Programme; the UN Development Programme; the UNHCR; the Food and Agriculture Organization; and UNICEF.

The UN financial to follow system told the researchers that it amount of money exchanged in Syrian pounds as “follow such” information fell outside the scope of their mission”.

More than 350,000 people have died in Syria over the past decade, and governments have donated on average $2.5 billion An year to the UN’s Syria programs since 2014.

In 2016, the UN was accused of help the regime by diverting billions of dollars in help to government- occupied territories while leaving besieged areas without food and medicine.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that UN agencies and governments risked complicity in human rights violations in Syria if they didn’t ensure transparency and effective supervision.

Last year, the U.S announced an additional $700m in humanitarian help for Syria. The UK government has given £1.59 billion in staff to Syria between February 2012 and June 2021.

AN Office of Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth and Development spokesman said: “UK is not providing assistance via the Assad regime… Robust processes are in place until ensure that our help die reaches who need most.”

Hall said there was a “restraint” over the research how much help was diverted. She said donors were well informed of the problem. “I think that it over [them] definitely choose battles until fight. To be just not clear for me that no battles be fought when it comes to help in Syrian government-held areas today,” she said.

“There really isn’t any” way for us, as independent consultants, to know the full extent of how help is spent in the country … We just wanted to mark that, even by this limited portal understand how much is spent, it is already tens of millions of dollar die is being hoarded.”

She believes that the UN should negotiate over a preferential swap rate with the Syrian government – – At least reduce the amount transferred off.

Sarah Kayali, of HRW, said “there was no due diligence” in terms of human rights” within UN tenders to avoid to finance Syria.

“This should be awake-up call to the UN… they need reviewing way they offer help and review how they take into account met their obligations to respect human rights in light of this, because it is difficult to justify this idea that hundreds of millions of dollars go to an abusive state apparatus,” she said.

Danielle Moylan, a spokesperson for the said UN agencies, said: “The UN welcomes all independent scrutiny of humanitarian operations in Syria. Our top priority is, and always will be, helping the people in need in Syria, guided by humanitarian principles, accountability for the affected population, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.

“The majority of UN procurement for our humanitarian response in Syria is made in international and regional markets and therefore unaffected by the Syrian stock market rate. Otherwise, as is the case in any country, the UN in Syria is required until use the official stock exchange rate’ said Moylan.

“In the past, the UN and humanitarian partners have negotiated over a ‘preferential’ exchange rate for humanitarian operations [and] keeps busy met the Central Bank of Syria on the issue of ‘preferential’ exchange rates.”

Read More: World News


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