Iranian people suffer US sanctions amid COVID-19 outbreak: Ambassador
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015. (REUTERS File Photo)
The Iranian people are suffering under U.S. sanctions at the time when the novel coronavirus caused damage to their country and these sanctions put a lot of obstacles for Iran’s struggle against COVID-19, particularly in acquiring drugs and medical equipment, Iran’s Ambassador to Ankara Mohammed Farazmand has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Calling on the international community to put pressure on the Trump Administration to change its attitude, the ambassador also expressed gratitude to Turkey for the medical aid they sent.
When was the first COVID-19 case was detected in Iran? What is the current situation of the pandemic in your country?
The first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iran were reported on Feb. 19 in Qom. On the same day, despite the fact that the country was on the verge of holding important elections of the parliament, the virus outbreak was announced in a transparent manner to the public, in order to protect public health.
On March 29, 2020, the total number of infections in Iran rose to 38,309. Almost 9,000 people, infected by the coronavirus, have so far recovered and discharged from hospitals. Sadly, COVID-19 has taken the lives of 2,640 people in my country so far. But on the other hand, a great number of people, diagnosed with COVID-19, have been discharged from ICU wards and the number of entry of coronavirus patients to hospitals has registered a significant decline.
What are the measures your government has taken so far? What is the main approach your government has adopted?
Within the framework of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and in compliance with International Health Standards, Iran has provided their facilities and resources to cope with the epidemic. Iran, due to this responsibility, has provided all information to the relevant international institutions and invited experts from the WHO to visit and analyze our health facilities and to provide Iran with the necessary advice and experiences. Iranian scientists have begun the process of developing a compound drug. Fortunately, the early test of this drug has been successful, and we hope that it will be operational in the coming days.
Along with civil facilities, we have provided all army hospitals with required medical equipment and the Army Ground Force constructed an equipped 2,000-bed hospital within 48 hours. The government has made numerous decisions, such as closing down public centers, schools and universities, postponing events, providing the basic needs of the population, teleworking of staff, disinfection of the urban facilities, etc. A great number of prisoners have been released on leave in cooperation with the Judiciary Branch across the country. As all other countries, staying at home is “essential” and this issue should be taken into serious consideration.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your approach? When do you think would this outbreak be taken under control and be defeated in Iran?
While the virus devastates the cities and towns, our nation suffers under the most severe and indiscriminate campaign of economic terrorism in history, imposed illegally and extra-territorially by the U.S. These sanctions have affected the legal trade of the medicine, medical equipment and humanitarian supplies and have posed serious obstacles to the efforts to battle against COVID-19 in Iran. It is very necessary and urgent that all governments and nations urge and put pressure for an immediate end to the U.S. government’s economic terrorism against people of Iran.
Is your government in cooperation with other nations in fighting the coronavirus?
It is indispensable that all countries in the world stand together, free from political and geographical differences. Iranian people appreciate the growing global campaign of governments & civil society leaders calling for the lifting of illegal U.S. sanctions. A great number of world leaders including Turkey, China, Pakistan, Russia, Lebanon, the U.N. and the EU have called for the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Do you have any kind of cooperation with Turkey as part of the struggle against COVID-19?
We appreciate the Turkish government for donating a consignment of healthcare medical aid to Iran. By the order of the Turkish government, all land and air borders between the two countries were closed. Because of this, there were problems for Iranian and Turkish trucks trying to return. However, with the cooperation and follow-up of many Turkish trucks, they entered Iran from Central Asia and headed for Turkey. Also, Iranian trucks that were in Turkey or in European countries, Lebanon, Georgia and Ukraine returned to Iran through Turkish territory. Unfortunately, the process of bilateral trade has slowed down and the two sides are trying to establish a way for the continuation of trade between the two countries.
Do you receive sufficient support from other countries and the rest of the international society in Iran’s struggle against COVID-19?
In this crisis, as Iran came alongside the affected countries, especially China, many countries supported the Iranian people in different ways. Of course, the U.S. sanctions have created serious problems for sending medical equipment and supplies to confront the coronavirus, so the inhumane policy of imposing unilateral sanctions which are crimes against humanity.