'Assad stole 100 mn UN aid by manipulating exchange rates'

Said Center for Strategic and International Studies

21 October, 16:50

    (ANSAmed) - NEW YORK, 21 OTT - Syria allegedly secretly stole 100 million dollars from UN donations by manipulating currency exchange rates, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies cited by US media.

    The regime of Bashar al-Assad was subjected to harsh sanctions for years, which means the government can't generate revenue through trade with countries such as the United States, Great Britain and the EU.

    In addition, millions of dollars in Syrian government assets were frozen in banks situated in Lebanon or in other areas of the Middle East.

    As a result, researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies discovered, as part of a study conducted with the Operations and Policy Center and the Center for Operational Analysis and Research, that the Syrian Central Bank turned to illegal means to generate capital.

    The unofficial and less profitable rate, used by traders and on the black market, is 3,500 Syrian pounds to one US dollar.

    That means, according to the experts, that 50% of foreign aid sent to Syria by the UN in 2020 went to the government, and since 2019, Damascus has gained a total of 100 million dollars from this scheme.

    The UN agencies targeted by the Assad regime include the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme and UNICEF, reported The Guardian.

    "This shows an incredibly systematic way of deviating aid even before it has the chance to be used in the field," said Natasha Hall, a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (ANSAmed).

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