Global religious leaders urge US to lift crippling sanctions against Iran and other countries in face of COVID-19

In a joint letter to US president Donald Trump, ACT Alliance, the World Council of Churches, and National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA have urged the US to lift crippling sanctions against Iran that are greatly impeding response in that nation to COVID-19.

“The novel coronavirus is a common enemy of humanity everywhere,” reads the letter. “An effective response to the pandemic demands an unprecedented degree of global solidarity and cooperation, special care for the most vulnerable, and swift action to mitigate the conditions which create additional vulnerability.”

The religious leaders share a deep concern for the impact on the people of Iran of the sanctions imposed by the United States. “Iran, currently with over 67,000 confirmed cases and more than 4,000 documented deaths due to COVID-19, is by far the most affected country in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and one of the most affected countries in the world,” reads the letter. “But its public health response is severely impeded by the strict sanctions regime imposed on the country unilaterally by the United States since May 2019, resulting in an almost total economic blockade.”

The letter also calls for the lifting of sanctions facing other countries. “In this moment of global crisis, we make the same appeal in relation to sanctions impeding public health responses in other parts of the world – including Syria, Gaza, Venezuela and Cuba – whose people, already victimized by conflict and geo-political confrontation, are being deprived of badly-needed medicines, medical supplies and equipment…”

Now is not the moment for pursuing grievances belonging to the politics of the world before COVID-19, urges the letter. “In our new reality, any notion of national security is contingent on an effective response to the virus globally,” the letter reads. “Now is the moment for international solidarity and cooperation in controlling the spread of the virus, protecting the most vulnerable, and defeating this common enemy.”

Read the letter to US President Donald Trump here.