Study: Counter-Terrorism Laws Cripple Humanitarian Aid Networks

Global counter-terrorism laws are hampering vital humanitarian aid work by cutting off funding, halting projects, and creating climates of fear and “self-limitation,” a new independent study finds.

Published last week, and reported by the Guardian Tuesday, the report was commissioned by the UN for the Norwegian Refugee Council and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and examines the impact of laws like the 2011 US Patriot Act, focusing on their effect on Somalia and Palestine as case studies reflecting global trends.

Sanctions and counter-terrorism measures targeting Al-Shebab in Somalia led to a severe drop in aid to that country, in part because of the intimidation of organizations who believed their reputations to be vulnerable, especially Islamic aid organizations, the study shows.

After Al-Shebab was listed as a terrorist organization in 2008, aid to Somalia tanked 88 percent, and counter-terrorism measures worsened “an already polarized environment in which humanitarian actors are not perceived as neutral, impartial or independent,” the report finds, noting that the structural impacts of these developments will “stretch into the future.”

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Approximately 3.6 million people in Somalia depend on aid for their survival, IRIN Africa reports.