Sanctions and COVID-19: Commission launches ‘EU-level Contact Point’ to provide practical support to humanitarian aid operators

The European Commission has launched today a dedicated channel – an EU-level Contact Point – to help humanitarian operators obtain information and preliminary guidance on the practicalities for requesting humanitarian derogations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. When operating in sanctioned environments – and noting that under International Humanitarian Law, sanctions should not stand in the way of humanitarian aid – humanitarian operators may nonetheless encounter situations where the provision of humanitarian aid will require a prior authorisation. National competent authorities in the Member States grant such authorisations (i.e. humanitarian derogations). To facilitate the task of said national competent authorities, the EU-level Contact Point provides practical support to the actors involved in the provision of humanitarian aid – non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donors, banks and others – in identifying the national authority responsible for assessing their request and, when possible, providing preliminary, non-binding replies to queries. It will enable those seeking to obtain a derogation for humanitarian purposes to reach out to the Commission, by using a simple and tailor-made tool. The Commission will closely cooperate and regularly communicate with the Member States in order to streamline the requests and direct them to the relevant national authorities. In so doing, the Contact Point will contribute to the use of the national derogation systems and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, all the while being in compliance with EU sanctions. For more information, see here.