0922 GMT August 12, 2022
A group of UN independent human rights experts called on countries to lift – or at the very least, ease – sanctions to allow affected nations and communities access to vital supplies to fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.
People in countries under sanctions cannot protect themselves against the disease or get life-saving treatment if they fall ill because humanitarian exemptions to the sanctions are not working, the experts said in a news release on Friday, according to the UN official website.
‘Sanctions killing people’
“Sanctions that were imposed in the name of delivering human rights are in fact killing people and depriving them of fundamental rights, including the rights to health, to food and to life itself,” they said.
Water, soap, and electricity needed by hospitals, fuel for delivering vital goods, and food, are all in short supply because of the sanctions.
“Sanctions are bringing suffering and death in countries like Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen,” said Alena Douhan, special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, one of the experts highlighting the issue.
Nothing has improved, she added, since her appeal in April, for lifting of all unilateral sanctions that prevent sanctioned states from adequately fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, or since the International Red Cross Society and Red Crescent Society made a similar appeal.
“We renew our call for sanctioning countries to urgently lift, suspend or minimize their sanctions so that medicine, medical equipment, food and fuel can get through,” the experts said.
The experts welcomed efforts by many states, intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations, to try to help sanctioned countries fight the COVID-19.
However, in place of time-consuming and often costly procedures for getting humanitarian exemptions to sanctions, the UN experts said exemptions should be granted on the presumption that the stated purpose is actually humanitarian, with a burden of proof on others to show it is not.
“To guarantee human rights and solidarity in the course of the pandemic, licenses for delivery of humanitarian aid should be provided in the easiest way – preferably automatically upon request,” Douhan said.
“Individuals and humanitarian organizations involved in the delivery of such aid should in no way be subjected to secondary sanctions,” she stressed.
Iran is the worst-hit country in the West Asia by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.
The country is battling the highly contagious virus under illegal sanctions which the US imposed after scrapping a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.
Calls have recently been growing on the international stage for the US to lift its inhumane anti-Iran bans, which have hampered the country’s access to lifesaving medical supplies.
However, the administration of US President Donald Trump has turned a deaf ear to the calls demanding sanctions relief and instead imposed even more restrictive measures on the Islamic Republic.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he would be willing to provide aid to Iran to help deal with the outbreak if Tehran requested it.
Tehran has slammed Washington’s hypocrisy in offering aid while waging medical terrorism against the Iranian nation.