Counter-terrorism, de-risking and the humanitarian response in Yemen: a call for action

Working and discussion papers
February 2018

Over recent years, a growing fear of terrorism and a desire to combat financial crime have seen some banks close the accounts of customers or withhold services from people or regions that they associate with high risks related to funding terrorism, money laundering or other forms of financial crime. Individual Yemenis, Yemeni non-profit organisations and businesses have been adversely affected by bank de-risking regulations, which have weakened Yemen’s banking sector and contributed to its marginalisation and financial exclusion.

De-risking has also had serious implications for the humanitarian sector in Yemen. This study explores the nature and impact of de-risking on humanitarian organisations in Yemen, and the degree of financial access humanitarian organisations enjoy. In the context of one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, the study highlights the urgent need to address the adverse effects of de-risking on the humanitarian and business communities in Yemen.

De-risking, as this study demonstrates, has not only targeted individuals in Yemen, but has also prevented Yemeni NGOs from receiving much-needed funds for humanitarian assistance, especially following the outbreak of the war in March 2015. De-risking is also starving Yemeni businesses of access to letters of credit and, in turn, reducing their capacity to trade – and even survive. It sets out four proposals designed to address local and international blockages to the humanitarian response in Yemen, as well as identifying pathways towards economic reconstruction.