1. Home
  2. Americas
  3. United States

Midyear update: Anti-terror compliance

Tweaked US laws and a UK flip-flop

(Chris Lawley/Flickr)

Remember those 10 crises and trends to watch in 2019 we presented back in January? We’ve been keeping an eye on them, reporting on how areas from climate change to political transitions in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are impacting humanitarian needs and response. With 2019 just about half over, it’s time for an update.

 

Here’s what’s changed over the past six months, what we’re paying special attention to, and how it may affect the lives and livelihoods of people on the ground. Look for two updates every day this week, including today's on infectious diseases and anti-terror compliance.

 

Be sure to share your thoughts – and ideas for our continuing coverage – at [email protected]rg or @newhumanitarian

Taxpayers, governments and aid agencies all agree that keeping aid out of the hands of extremists like so-called Islamic State, Boko Haram, or al-Shabab is a big priority. But will donors’ impossible demands on diversion actually stop aid from reaching innocents in need?

 

What’s new:

 

US lawmakers tweaked counter-terrorism laws and promptly made most US aid to Palestine open to legal challenge. The fear of cash aid leaking into terrorist pockets also caused a policy flip-flop by the UK in northeastern Syria

 

Why we’re watching:

 

NGOs argue that donors are not taking their fair share of the risks of delivering aid to warzones like Yemen, Syria, or Somalia. Donors, NGO advocates say, are trying to wash their hands of liability under the guise of “zero-tolerance”. 

 

Some cases are clear-cut: in Syria, staff of an American aid group were caught systematically passing millions of dollars worth of food packages to militants, according to USAID investigators. But how detailed should NGOs’ due diligence be? Who is legally to blame if small amounts go astray? In May, the issue marred the re-launch of NGO alliance Start Network. Former member Norwegian Refugee Council stepped aside, saying it couldn’t agree a counter-terrorism clause open to vague interpretation.

 

Keep in mind:

 

Some 70,000 civilian wives and children of IS fighters are now encamped at al-Hol, Syria and present a test case of humanitarian principles and of donor risk appetite. Looking ahead, a creeping advance of counter-terrorism conditions attached to aid grants will become a battle between security and humanitarian agendas.

(TOP PHOTO: Aid distribution on the Syrian Turkish border.)

Read all our midyear updates: Ten humanitarian crises and trends to watch in 2019

Share this article

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join