BRUSSELS, April 6. /TASS/. The European Union has called on other countries to lift sanctions imposed on Syria, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea that prevent medical and humanitarian aid from reaching them amid the coronavirus pandemic, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday at a video press conference following a video conference of EU defense ministers.
"It is quite clear that our sanctions do not cause any problems in terms of provision of humanitarian aid. And we would like other countries to follow in our footsteps to make sure that medical equipment can be provided to countries which are under sanctions, for example Syria, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea," he said, underlining that he supports the UN Secretary-General’s call to ease all sanctions during the pandemic.
Last week, Borrell backed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who urged G20 countries to ease sanctions imposed on other states to accelerate the fight against the pandemic. Moreover, he also came out in support of Guterres’s call for an immediate global ceasefire.
On March 24, the UN Secretary-General addressed all countries, calling on them to ease sanctions placed on certain countries as well as to stop all fighting across the world. The UN General Assembly later adopted an alternative and a more general draft resolution calling for solidarity in the face of the pandemic, completely ignoring Guterres’s call to lift sanctions. Moreover, the Russian draft resolution containing more specific measures was rejected, which Russia’s permanent mission to the UN said would complicate the global resistance to the pandemic.
In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. To date, approximately 1,300,000 people have been infected worldwide and roughly 70,000 deaths have been reported. That said, over 265,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.