Syrian Food Shortage Calls on Frozen Assets

Contributor
Will international banks permit access to frozen accounts in the face of humanitarian crisis?

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Frozen assets may prevent a civil war-torn Syria from purchasing food to feed its people.

Syria is facing a serious wheat shortage, and with continuing civil unrest the government is lacking the funds necessary to feed its people.

President Bashar al-Assad’s hopes for a self-sufficient Syria appear to be hitting a wall as the withdrawal of foreign investment has left the national coffers depleted.  

This year’s wheat crop is already projected to be the worst in nearly thirty years, and the Syrian regime is facing a critical need to feed their people or risk losing their remaining supporters.

Syrian state buyers have already issued tenders for more than 500,000 tons of sugar, wheat, and rice. These tenders aim to trade for food on the promise of funds from frozen accounts, pending waivers from the international banks.

It is estimated that Syria maintained around $16 to $18 billion in foreign reserves before the outbreak of the civil war. Now, however, the country has experienced international bank sanctions and asset freezes that have made it very difficult for foreign investors to make deals.

Experts speculate that in the face of this pending humanitarian crisis, foreign banks may likely permit the Syrian government to access these frozen accounts. 

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