Nonprofits Call for Release of Frozen Funds for Humanitarian Efforts
by Matthew Madia, 11/7/2006
In a letter sent Nov. 6, a group of charities and nonprofit sector leaders asked the Treasury Department to release frozen funds belonging to charities designated as supporters of terrorism "to trustworthy aid agencies that can ensure the funds are used for their intended charitable purposes." According to the letter, the request "takes no position on whether these designations were appropriate. Instead, [the authors'] concern is with ensuring that charitable funds are put to good use." The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) lists 43 charities as supporters of terrorism on its Specially Designated Nationals list, including five U.S.-based charities. In its 2005 Terrorist Assets Report to Congress the Treasury Department estimated that these designations have resulted in more than $13.7 million in frozen assets. Research of public sources indicates that none of these blocked funds have been released for charitable purposes. The Treasury Department has rejected several requests from designated U.S. charities to have funds released for charitable purposes:
- In 2002, the Benevolence International Foundation asked that its funds be transferred to a children's hospital in Tajikistan and Charity Women's Hospital in Dagestan, with appropriate safeguards to ensure safe delivery of the funds.
- In 2004, the Holy Land Foundation asked that $50,000 of its funds be transferred to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund.
- In 2006, KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development asked that its funds be spent on charitable works through the USAID program or any other nongovernmental organization, and requested priority be given to refugees of the 2005 Pakistani earthquake, since most of the funds had been earmarked for that purpose.