This week the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the establishment of the humanitarian channel in Qatar (HC). As detailed in FAQs 1134 and 1135, this new voluntary program is designed to support the Iranian people’s access to food, agricultural goods, medicine, and medical devices, while ensuring that no funds are used in violation of U.S. sanctions. The HC complements and further facilitates already existing exceptions to U.S. sanctions that authorize certain exports of humanitarian goods to Iran
Through the HC, $6 billion of previously frozen Iranian funds may now be used by the Iranian government solely for the provision of humanitarian goods. The HC allows participating financial institutions and companies to engage in transactions to send humanitarian aid exports to Iran facilitated by the funds located in Qatar. The HC permits humanitarian aid exports for the benefit of the Iranian people without any funds going directly to the Government of Iran or Iranian companies, thus minimizing the risk of misuse. A similar program was previously employed by the United States to provide humanitarian aid to Iran in 2020, when a financial channel was specially designed to export humanitarian aid to Iran through a payment mechanism in Switzerland.
To ensure proper usage of these funds and to protect against money laundering and evasion of U.S. sanctions, the HC will be conducted with strict oversight and due diligence by the Government of Qatar and the United States. The HC does not lift any existing U.S. sanctions on Iran, nor does it replace any existing exceptions to these sanctions for the provision of humanitarian aid. Rather, the HC is a voluntary program that companies may use in addition to the existing exceptions and authorizations to provide humanitarian aid while still ensuring compliance with the U.S. sanctions on Iran.
OFAC has indicated that companies interested in participating in this program should coordinate directly with the Qatari International Media Office at email@example.com and should direct specific questions to the OFAC Compliance Hotline.
Contact us if you have questions about this new program or its potential impact on the export of humanitarian goods to Iran.