United Nations Human Rights chief called for ease of sanctions on Iran and other countries to support the lives of millions of people during Coronavirus pandemic. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on March 24 that the broad sectoral sanctions should urgently be re-evaluated in countries which are facing serious challenges due to the novel Coronavirus.
Bachelet highlighted the impact of the collapse of any country's medical system because of the death, suffering and wider contagion. The 68-year-old UN official warned that impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for everyone in the context of a pandemic.
“Humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be given broad and practical effect, with prompt, flexible authorization for essential medical equipment and supplies,” said Bachelet in a statement.
Bachelet, who has also served as President of Chile, gave the example of Iran which has reported over 1,900 deaths and facing crippling sanctions from the United States. She underlined the impact of sectoral sanctions on access to essential medicines and medical equipment. She added that a variety of sanctions may also impede medical efforts in Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, 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,” said the Human Rights chief.
On March 23, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran contain the coronavirus outbreak. During a televised address, Rouhani said that he has rejected the humanitarian assistance offered by Washington and added that if they really want to help Iran then they should lift sanctions.