UN calls for easing Iran sanctions amid coronavirus pandemic

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Tuesday for easing of sanctions imposed on countries like Iran to enable medical systems to fight coronavirus pandemic.

“It is vital to avoid the collapse of any country’s medical system – given the explosive impact that will have on death, suffering and wider contagion,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

“At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended,” Bachelet added.

“In the context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us”, according to i24news.

Any international and unilateral sanctions should be “urgently re-evaluated,” UN Human Rights Commissioner said .

“Humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be given broad and practical effect, with prompt, flexible authorization for essential medical equipment and supplies,” Bachelet said.

The devastation of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran is raising pressure on the U.S. to ease sanctions on the Islamic Republic. So far, the Trump administration isn’t budging.

In Iran, where at least 1,800 people have died from COVID-19, human rights reports have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on access to essential medicines and medical equipment – including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

The sanctions have already damaged Iran’s ability to procure crucial equipment, including respirators and protective suits needed to fight the deadly disease, RT said.

Some aid groups say America’s crushing “maximum pressure” campaign against it is worsening a humanitarian disaster.

Yet finding companies and banks that are willing to navigate U.S. rules in an effort to sell to Iran but sidestep punishing American sanctions is extremely difficult since the Trump administration began ratcheting up pressure in 2018. That makes it even harder to get purely humanitarian goods into the country, said Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

“These exemptions have failed to offset the strong reluctance of U.S. and European companies and banks to risk incurring sanctions and legal action by exporting or financing exempted humanitarian goods,” said Sepehri Far. “We saw letters by banks and companies refusing to conduct humanitarian trade with Iran”, according to Bloomberg .

Bachelet called for world leaders to come together. “International cooperation and solidarity are essential at all times, to advance human rights; they are also vital to advancing every country’s national interests at this time.”

“No country can effectively combat this epidemic on its own. We need to act with solidarity, cooperation and care,” she said – echoing last week’s call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for “coordinated, decisive, and innovative policy action” to counter the spread of COVID-19, reliefweb reported.


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