On May 12, 2020, the European Commission offered guidance on how humanitarian operators can provide aid to countries that are subject to EU sanctions during the COVID-19 pandemic, with its first notice focusing on Syria. The Commission explained that while Syria Sanctions are aimed at strengthening national security by targeting International Terrorism and Chemical Weapons, the coronavirus pandemic requires global unity, and efforts should be made to provide medical assistance to civilian populations in the 40 countries currently facing EU sanctions. While there are restrictions on exports to sanctioned countries, authorizations can be granted by the competent national authority in each member state.
The Guidance Note mentions that funds and economic resources are allowed to enter Syria, provided that they are used for humanitarian relief of the civilian population, and, where necessary, the proper license is obtained in advance. Humanitarian organizations are allowed to submit joint applications to authorities in several countries simultaneously, and the Commission encourages national authorities to impose the conditions they deem appropriate in order to facilitate humanitarian aid under the exceptional circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.