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  • Human rights reports have been highlighting the deadly impact of sanctions on access to essential medicines and equipment.

    Human rights reports have been highlighting the deadly impact of sanctions on access to essential medicines and equipment. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 March 2020

The letter urged the U.N. chief “to call for the complete and immediate lifting of the illegal, coercive and arbitrary measures of economic pressure."

Venezuela has joined Wednesday China, Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and Nicaragua in their plea to United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urge the United States (U.S.) to remove its illegal economic sanctions on these countries amid the coronavirus global pandemic.

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“Today we have a common enemy. As you've already recognized, it's a time to prepare, to step up and increase the efforts. Our national governments are willing to move in that direction,” the letter signed by Foreign Affairs Ministers reads.

“However, we must recognize that this is a difficult, if not impossible, move for countries that are currently facing unilateral and coercive measures, which are illegal and in flagrant violation of the international law and the Charter of the United Nations.”

The ministers urged the U.N. chief “to call for the complete and immediate lifting of these illegal, coercive and arbitrary measures of economic pressure [...] in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to the COVID-19, and also to reject the politicization of this pandemic.”

Earlier this week, Guterres wrote to the Group of  20 (G20) economic powers that he is in favor of “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,” the head of the international body said.

Yet the calls are unlikely to gain traction in the U.N. Security Council, where diplomats say there has been little serious thought given to the prospect of easing sanctions. 

More than 465,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus. Some 113,000 have recovered, but almost 21,000 have died, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Human rights reports have been highlighting the deadly impact of sanctions on access to essential medicines and equipment, such as respirators and protective equipment for patients as well as healthcare workers in countries suffering from U.S. sanctions.

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