Unilateral sanctions against Syria should be lifted as soon as possible, a UN expert said on Thursday.
The sanctions are contributing to the destruction and trauma suffered by the Syrian people, said Alena Douhan, UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights.
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Following a 12-day visit to Syria, Douhan said she was struck by the humanitarian impact of the measures imposed on Syria, a country attempting to rebuild in the wake of a decade-long war.
Douhan said that 90 percent of Syria's population is currently living below the poverty line, with limited access to food, water, electricity, shelter, fuel, transportation and healthcare. The country is facing a huge "brain-drain" due to growing economic hardship, she said.
"With more than half of the vital infrastructure either completely destroyed or severely damaged, the imposition of unilateral sanctions on key economic sectors, including oil, gas, electricity, trade, construction and engineering, has quashed national income, and undermined efforts towards economic recovery and reconstruction," Douhan added.
"In the current dramatic and still-deteriorating humanitarian situation, as 12 million Syrians grapple with food insecurity, I urge the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely harm human rights and prevent any efforts for early recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction," she stressed.
The UN Special Rapporteur also referred to other negative impacts of the sanctions, including on international cooperation in the areas of science, the arts, sports, cultural heritage, access to new technologies, cyberspace, criminality and security. She also referred to the frozen foreign assets of Syrian financial institutions.
"I urge the international community and the sanctioning states, in particular, to pay heed to the devastating effects of sanctions, and to take prompt and concrete steps to address over-compliance by businesses and banks in accordance with international human rights law," she said.