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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Iranians with thalassemia suffer as a result of US sanctions, warns UN

According to human rights officials, the embargo prevents Iranians with a hereditary illness from receiving critical medical care.

According to the UN Human Rights Council, which cites the findings of two special rapporteurs on thalassemia sufferers in Iran, the US sanctions against Iran and their enforcement in third countries are illegal under international law.

“The legality of the US unilateral sanctions against Iran is doubtful under international law, and so is the legality of their extraterritorial enforcement,” Alena Douhan and Obiora Okafor said in a statement. “Still companies outside the US feel obliged to comply to avoid facing legal or business repercussions.”

Okafor is a lone expert on human rights and international solidarity, whereas Douhan is the special rapporteur on the adverse effects of unilateral coercive actions on the enjoyment of human rights. They investigated how the unilateral US embargo, implemented in 2018 as a result of Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement, has affected Iranians who have thalassemia, a congenital blood ailment.

Patients with thalassemia in Iran are “especially numerous,” necessitating the use of specific drugs during blood transfusions. They were “denied to Iran” because of “anxiety in the medical, delivery, and insurance business sectors,” according to the experts. They were produced by the Swiss company Novartis with components acquired from the French company Roquette Freres.

“The humanitarian exemptions for medical goods in US sanctions regulations are complex and unclear,” Douhan and Okafor said, while Washington imposes high fines on companies selling medication to Iran, which leads to their “over-compliance.”

They stated that despite delivery authorization, “producers, shippers, insurers, or banks” are hesitant to work with Iran out of concern for “strong US sanctions enforcement and fines.” As a result, thalassemia sufferers have experienced “anxiety, anguish, and untimely death.”

Read More: US allies criticize Iran’s response to IAEA report

Okafor and Douhan urged other UN members to uphold their human rights obligations while calling on the US government to remove any barriers to financial transactions for medical purposes, effectively implement humanitarian exemptions, and refrain from imposing secondary sanctions on medical exports to Iran.

A inherited blood condition called thalassemia necessitates frequent blood transfusions as well as medicine to treat symptoms. Iran has a high incidence of the condition, and each year, 25,000 babies are born with thalassemia.

The OHCHR noted in a statement released on Tuesday that the import of essential medical supplies and equipment, such as blood transfusion equipment and medication, has been hampered by the sanctions, placing the health of those with thalassemia at considerable danger. The OHCHR urged the nations applying the sanctions to take into account the humanitarian ramifications of their decisions and to exempt medical supplies and equipment from the restrictions.

Additionally, the OHCHR pleaded on the international community to assist Iran in addressing how the sanctions are affecting the health of its people, notably thalassemia patients.

With regard to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was concluded with Iran in 2015, the US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany agreed to restrict Tehran’s nuclear energy research in exchange for a lifting of UN sanctions. In 2018, the United States abandoned the JCPOA unilaterally, enforcing its own penalties and determined to hold accountable anyone, anywhere, who disobeyed them.