International and private aid organizations offer help to the weakest of the weak and compete in the international donation market. Given the major challenges, the Secretary General of the United Nations is calling for a global ceasefire. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for the sanctions to be eased against countries that are struggling with the infectious disease Covid-19.
In a joint letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterrez, the UN ambassadors from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Nicaragua called for the immediate lifting of the economic punitive measures against their countries: the whole world is affected by the disease, everyone Countries should have the same opportunities to fight the disease and to cooperate with each other.
Iran, which has been suffering from US sanctions since 1979, is particularly affected. With the U.S. exit from the joint nuclear deal in early 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump aggravated the situation. Agreed easing of the sanctions did not come into force. Instead, Trump announced that it would “reduce Iran’s oil exports” to zero. With far-reaching financial sanctions that came into force at the end of 2019, Iran should also be economically isolated, according to the US administration.
According to the Ministry of Health in Tehran on Wednesday, 2077 people died from the infectious disease, including 50 doctors. More than 27,000 people are infected with the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) sent 7.5 tons of medical supplies, including tests and protective clothing for doctors and nurses.
Syria and Lebanon are also suffering from US sanctions. The economies of both countries are closely linked, and the economic and financial pressure from US and EU sanctions against Syria – particularly with regard to the US dollar and other foreign currency reserves – also affect Lebanon.
The first cases of illness were registered in Lebanon at the beginning of March, and a state of emergency and a curfew were imposed on March 15. Schools and universities, restaurants and cafes, ports, borders and the country’s only airport were closed. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health gave the number of diseases as 333, six people have died so far. On Thursday, the Lebanese Defense Council, chaired by President Michel Aoun, extended the curfew by a further 14 days until April 12.
Syria has been subject to a long list of economic punitive measures imposed by the Council of Europe in addition to U.S. sanctions since 2011. Living conditions are precarious due to nine years of war and the displacement of millions of people. The health system has been at its limit for years and the country lacks well-trained medical personnel. Around 70,000 doctors and specialists have left the country.
Schools and universities, kindergartens, restaurants and cafés have been closed since mid-March. A night-time curfew was imposed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the population in all provinces of the country. The borders with the neighboring countries of Jordan and Lebanon have been closed, and private and state transport has been stopped – except for essential goods. According to the Ministry of Health, there are five confirmed infections with the Corona Virus. A special emergency hospital was opened in Zabadani, and there is a quarantine center near Al Dweir outside Damascus.
In the areas in the north and east of the country that are not controlled by the Syrian government, the “white helmets” or the Kurdish-led “Syrian Democratic Forces” take care of the health situation. They receive support from the World Health Organization.