LONDON - Banks' fear of breaching British counter-terrorism laws is hindering the work of UK charities in Syria, resulting in delayed transfers, accounts being closed or frozen and other problems, according to a development think tank.
In some cases, international banks' actions have directly affected aid operations, delaying payments of salaries and suppliers and forcing the abandonment of projects, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said on Thursday.
"Tens of thousands of people in conflict areas such as Syria, Somalia and Gaza are depending on the life-saving assistance provided by UK charities, but these are precisely the locations that present the highest risks to banks under the counter-terrorism legislation," Tom Keatinge, independent researcher for the ODI's Humanitarian Policy Group, said in a statement.
Britain first passed anti-terrorism legislation in 1974, linked to conflict in Northern Ireland. It has since passed more laws in an effort to prevent terror attacks and avoid funds reaching militants.