Basma Alloush discusses the growing complexity of sanctions as a political tool and its consequential impact on humanitarian organizations. The challenges faced by these organizations are twofold: first, in navigating the intricate nature of various sanctions regimes and understanding their legal implications, and second, in dealing with the adverse effects of bank de-risking. The prolonged payment processing times for essential operations such as program expenses and staff salaries in heavily sanctioned countries have led to increased costs and reduced options, affecting the quality of products and services. The speaker emphasizes the need for continuous engagement and dialogue between humanitarian entities and sanctioning authorities, particularly with financial institutions, to address these challenges and find common ground for more efficient operations in sanctioned environments.
Basma Alloush is the external relations officer with UNHCR’s office in Washington, D.C. As the external relations officer, Basma regularly engages with the U.S. government, NGOs, think tanks, and other policy-influencing actors to advance UNHCR’s global priorities. Prior to joining UNHCR, Basma was the policy advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) leading the policy team’s work on the Middle East, Afghanistan, and restrictive measures. Before ICRC, Basma was the senior policy and advocacy adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) USA where she spent over six years leading NRC USA’s advocacy in Washington, DC and New York. During her time at NRC, Basma organized and managed many advocacy tours for field colleagues and she conducted multiple field missions to Nigeria, Kenya, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen. Additionally, Basma is a guest lecturer at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs where she teaches a graduate course on conflict and humanitarian crises in MENA. Basma is a former nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) where she focused on researching humanitarian crises in MENA. Basma obtained her master’s degree at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, completing her thesis project on the role of diaspora in transitional justice processes, with a particular focus on the Syrian and Liberian cases, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Northeastern University.