Foreign Policy
Sat Mar 07, 2020 3:18
Embassy: Iranian Medical Personnel Fighting COVID-19 despite Inhuman Sanctions by US
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian embassy in Belgium, in a statement issued on Saturday, hailed the selfless efforts of compatriot doctors and nurses in their fight against the outbreak of coronavirus, highlighting the importance of the role played by medical personnel in the face of the US inhuman sanctions.

The Iranian diplomatic mission in Belgium said in a statement today that despite all the inhumane sanctions on the country, the Iranian doctors and hospital personnel are in the frontline of the fight against the virus.

It referred to some of the measures taken by Iran since two weeks ago when the first cases of infection to the virus were detected in the country.

The statement said that temporary hospitals have been formed, streets are disinfected, working hours of state and public organizations have been reduced, health guidelines are issued in different parts of the country, and border inspections have been carried out, along with the imposition of travel restrictions and cancellation of railway and air travels.  

All the religious rituals as well as, cultural and social ceremonies have been suspended and all the schools and universities are shut down all across the country until the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 20), the statement said, noting that Iran is in close contact with expert teams from World Health Organization and China to rid the country from the epidemic.

It, however, said that a biased campaign with political motivations has been set up which is publishing unconfirmed videos in social media to undermine the efforts by the Iranian government.

Global institutions and analysts have expressed concerns with the impact of sanctions on Iranians' right to health and access to medication. 

"The epidemic in Iran is serious now. We need international assistance as the sanctions imposed on the country make international help inaccessible," an Iranian scholar who works in Geneva told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

Within 24 hours, the Iranian Embassy in China has received 4 million yuan ($576,800) after the embassy released a post on Sina Weibo on Wednesday, saying that Iran is in urgent need of materials like masks, respirators and viral testing kits.

"The generosity and kindness of Chinese friends touched us deeply," the embassy said on Weibo late Thursday, vowing to use the donation to buy disease prevention supplies with transparency.

In the Wednesday Weibo post, the embassy posted contact numbers and QR codes of their WeChat and Alipay accounts, while some netizens commented with screenshots of transfer information under the embassy's post.

Analysts said the US had partly exempted humanitarian goods through certain channels recently, but in name only. Constraints on financial transactions and the reluctance of financial institutions to facilitate trade related to Iran have made accessing medical supplies a persistent challenge.

Even though the US Treasury Department announced partial relief on February 28 to allow humanitarian aid to arrive in Iran through Switzerland, many companies are still hesitant to export critical medical supplies for worries of triggering retaliation from the US, apart from concerns over the difficult transaction procedures.

"US sanctions on Iran are capricious, but they eventually aim to constrain Iran's development and its people's well-being. This exemption of humanitarian aid can be seen as part of the US strategy to lead the Iranian public away from their government seen as a political rival by the US," Tian Feilong, a research fellow in the Middle Eastern studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Iran has become a new focal point for the quick spread of the novel coronavirus since last week. It has reported the second-highest number of deaths of COVID-19 outside of China.

A doctor who refused to be named in Tehran told the Global Times that Iran is barely self-sufficient in medical supplies, but some specialist items are in extremely short supply and need to be imported because of Iran's own limited production capacity. But there are difficulties in acquiring them because of the sanctions imposed by the US.

The US government has initiated "the toughest ever" sanctions against the Iranian industry and banks in November 2018. Institutions and global companies breaking these restrictions may face heavy punishment and exclusion from the US financial system.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Report on Human Rights in Iran in 2019 suggested that sanctions and banking restrictions will unduly affect the availability and distribution of medicines, pharmaceutical equipment and supplies. The report also warned of the potential negative impact sanctions have on UN and other humanitarian programs in Iran.

"Iran can only fill gaps in limited supplies by turning to alternative, unofficial and sometimes underground ways, such as private agencies, overseas third-party payment or Bitcoin transactions. This is needed to trade with outsiders to keep medical workers on the frontline in the struggle against the novel coronavirus," a manager of a trade services company in Iran surnamed Liu said.

Shortages of essential medical protective equipment such as masks and thermometers are obvious across major cities in Iran which in partly are causing the steep price of supplies, Liu told the Global Times.

"Many doctors and nurses on the frontlines of treating patients with suspected coronavirus do not have standard protective outfits and only wear operating gowns with limited antiviral ability," said Li Hong, manager of an Iran-based local tour agency, quoting her friend who is a doctor in a Tehran hospital. "Goggles and disinfection products are also in short supply."

In an interview with on Monday, Ramin Fallah, vice president of the Iranian Union of Importers of Medical Equipment, said the anti-Iran sanctions have hindered the import of coronavirus test kits.

While several foreign companies are ready to ship COVID-19 diagnostic test kits to Iran, the union is unable to transfer any money, because the sellers insist that payments should be made only via banks, Fallah added.

The intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force made the situation worse by its decision on February 21 to re-blacklist Iran for "its failure to meet with international treaties."

At present, the international community is highly concerned about the severity of the epidemic in Iran. France, Germany, and UK offered Iran $5.58 million in aid to combat the coronavirus while China has dispatched expert teams and donated a batch of nucleic acid test kits and medical equipment to Iran. China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on February 28, expressing support for Iran and sympathy to the patients' families.

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom top
Lebanon: Thousands Gather at Beirut Port as Bells Ring Out in Honor of Victims of Explosions

TEHRAN (FNA)- Beirut marked a week since the devastating explosion which killed top 170 people, injured thousands. Thousands of people gathered near the shattered port, remembering those who died in the most destructive blast. [VIDEO]
Powerful Storm Leaves 2 Dead, Heavy Crop Damage across US Midwest

TEHRAN (FNA)- A rare storm with power similar to a hurricane swept across the US Midwest. Hundreds of thousands remained without electricity after a powerful storm packing 100 mph winds battered the region a day earlier, causing widespread damage to millions of acres of crops and killing at least two people. [VIDEO]
Residents of Beirut Hold A Candlelit Vigil for Those Lost in Last Week Massive Explosion

TEHRAN (FNA)- Residents of Beirut mourn for the victims of last week's port explosion with a candlelit vigil held at the exact time of the devastating blast. [PHOTOS]
South Korean Soldiers Search for People Swept Away by Strong Current in Chuncheon

TEHRAN (FNA)- South Korea's death toll from days of heavy rain rose to 30, with 12 missing and eight wounded as of Aug. 9, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters. South Korean soldiers search for people swept away by strong current in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province of South Korea. [PHOTOS]
Why Amnesty International Never Condemns Bahrain’s Arms Suppliers

TEHRAN (FNA)- Amnesty International has a lot on its plate these days. It has just appealed to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah to commute all death sentences handed down to a dozen political inmates, amid growing criticism of the regime’s judicial system for unfair trials and extraction of confessions under torture.
Envoy: UNSC to Oppose New US Resolution on Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi called the new US resolution on Iran's arms embargo similar to the previous one in nature and goal, and said that the UN Security Council will reject it again.
Iranian, French Presidents Hold Talks on Lebanon

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his French counterpart Emanuel Macron in phone talk on Wednesday discussed the latest developments in Lebanon after the last week explosion in Beirut as well as issues related to the nuclear deal.
COVID-19: India Sees 60,963 More Cases, 834 Deaths

TEHRAN (FNA)- India registered 60,963 new COVID-19 cases and 834 deaths over the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to 2.33 million, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.
Germany Suffers Worst Daily Spike in Coronavirus Cases Since May with 1,226 New Infections

TEHRAN (FNA)- Germany saw its worst daily spike in coronavirus cases for three months on Wednesday as a "very concerning" rebound in infections continues to gather pace.
Iran, Azerbaijan Agree on Cooperation Roadmap

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Labor Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari announced that the roadmap for broadening of mutual cooperation between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan has been prepared.
Official: Foreign Investment Triples in Iran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Director General of Organization for Investment Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran Abolfazl Koodehi said that the volume of foreign investment in the country has tripled in the first 4 months of this year compared to the same period last year.
More Than 860 Students, Teachers in One Georgia School District Told to Quarantine After Dozens Test Positive for COVID-19

TEHRAN (FNA)- More than 860 students and teachers from a single school district in Georgia are currently quarantining after dozens of COVID-19 infections were reported when in-person classes resumed a week ago.
Outrage as Coronavirus Prompts US Universities, Colleges to Shed Staff

TEHRAN (FNA)- Ahead of the coming reopening of further education, universities and colleges around America are beginning to announce massive layoffs and job cuts, citing financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister: Iran-Made Coronavirus Vaccine in Human Trial Phase

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that the country’s medical specialists and scientists are now testing the home-made coronavirus vaccine on humans.
Father, Son Charged in Killing of Jogger Ahmaud Arbery Issue Plea to Judge to Release Them on Bond Ahead of Murder Trial

TEHRAN (FNA)- The father and son jailed on murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery are asking a Georgia judge to grant them bond and throw out two charges in their indictment.