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Sanctions should not prevent the delivery of medical supplies, EU official says

Sanctions should not stop the delivery of medical equipment and supplies to countries battling outbreaks of the coronavirus, the European Union’s top diplomat has said.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, made the call in a declaration on Friday backing the UN’s call for an immediate global ceasefire to allow the world to focus on the pandemic.

“The European Union also stresses that sanctions should not impede the delivery of essential equipment and supplies necessary to fight the coronavirus and limit its spread worldwide,” Borrell said.

The EU, he said, would apply humanitarian exceptions to ensure that sanctions currently in place would not hamper any efforts to fight the disease, adding that it “also encourages other jurisdictions to provide the necessary clarifications to ensure that their respective sanctions are no obstacle to the global fight against the pandemic.”

Borrell’s comments come after the US ignored calls to suspend its sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, and after Cuban officials said the six-decade US embargo of their country blocked a shipment of coronavirus aid from Asia’s richest man, Jack Ma.

Calling for international solidarity, Borrell said:

Now is the time to devote all our energy and resources to fight the world’s common challenge – the coronavirus. It is time to focus on global health. Only together can we protect the most vulnerable people in our societies, both medically and economically, from this virus and the human suffering that it brings.”

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