Leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis has urged removal of international sanctions against various countries in order to facilitate their efforts to curb an ongoing pandemic of the deadly new coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Delivering his Easter address from Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Vatican City recently, the pontiff urged world powers to ease crippling economic sanctions imposed against a number of countries, saying that safeguarding the human health depended on it.

“In light of the present circumstances, many international sanctions be relaxed, since these makes it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,” Francis said.

Pope’s remarks comes as in recent months calls have been growing inside the US and abroad for Washington to lift its unilateral sanctions on countries that are not in line with its policies, especially Iran, with bans being described as a wrench thrown into global efforts to rein in COVID-19.

The UN, the European Union and human rights organizations besides several American lawmakers and political figures have been pressing the US administration to ease the bans on Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, among others on the sanctions list.

The United States reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a UN-endorsed nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic and five other countries.

Over the past few weeks, Washington has issued new rounds of sanctions targeting companies doing business with Tehran as well as international banks, which have made it impossible for the country to procure medicine and medical equipment it needs to tackle the pandemic.

Iran has been among the countries hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, recording 71,686 infections and 4,473 deaths so far.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has escalated the anti-Cuba sanctions ever since taking office in 2017, making it even more difficult for other countries to ship supplies there.

Cuba has blasted the United States for its “cruel” blockade against the small island nation, joining other countries to slam US sanctions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Other nations currently being harmed by US sanction despite the highly contagious virus pandemic have also condemned Washington’s inhumane measures.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the pope urged the world’s leaders to put aside their political fights and call back their armies during a global health emergency of a magnitude not seen in 100 years.

“This is not a time for division,” Francis said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has already called for a global ceasefire, urging all parties in conflict to lay down arms and allow war-torn nations to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Parties to conflict in a number of countries, including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen, have expressed support for his call.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *