UN urges to ease sanctions against countries fighting COVID-19...

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UN urges to ease sanctions against countries fighting COVID-19

 International Desk daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 08:53 PM, 25 March 2020  

Michelle Bachelet; photo: collected

Michelle Bachelet; photo: collected

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday called for easing the sanctions against countries such as Iran to allow their medical systems to fight Covid-19 and limit its global spread.

On Thursday in a statement, Bachelet said humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be authorized for essential medical equipment and supplies to avoid the collapse of any national healthcare system. 

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

Bachelet pointed in particular to the case of Iran – one of the hardest-hit countries in the pandemic with nearly 2,000 deaths,  including 50 doctors. Human rights reports on the country have repeatedly highlighted the impact of sanctions on access to essential medicines and equipment, such as respirators and protective equipment for healthcare workers.  

Ms. Bachelet feared sanctions could also impact medical efforts in Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Venezuela and Zimbabwe. 

“The majority of these states have frail or weak health systems. Progress in upholding human rights is essential to improve those systems – but obstacles to the import of vital medical supplies, including over-compliance with sanctions by banks, will create long-lasting harm to vulnerable communities”, she said. 

She urged world leaders to come together. “No country can effectively combat this epidemic on its own," she said. "We need to act with solidarity, cooperation and care."