UN chief urges rolling back sanctions to contain coronavirus pandemic

March 29, 2020 - 2:1

United Nations leadership on Tuesday called for rolling back international sanctions regimes around the world, saying they are heightening the health risks for millions of people and weakening the global effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Foreign Policy reported on March 24.

The appeal reflects mounting concerns that sanctions regimes may be impeding efforts in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe to battle the coronavirus, and enhancing the prospects of the pathogen’s spread to other countries.

“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in a letter to the G-20 economic powers. “Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”

Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, also said on Tuesday that “in a context of global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”

“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,” she said in a statement.

As of Saturday, March 28, the coronavirus has killed over 2,500 people in Iran and infected more than 35,000.

U.S. President Donald Trump, under his “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran, has been draining Iran’s foreign currency reserve to contain the deadly virus.

Writing a commentary in USA Today on March 25, Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi has warned about the consequences of illegal sanctions against Iran, saying if Iran fails to contain the coronavirus it will affect the entire world.

He said, “Either we will succeed and win together” against coronavirus, “or we will be hurt and lose together”.

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