UN envoy urges lifting of sanctions harming Syrian civilians

Nov 9, 2022, 5:56 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2022, 8:03 am
Alena Douhan, a U.N. official tasked with looking into the impact of sanctions on human rights, spe...

Alena Douhan, a U.N. official tasked with looking into the impact of sanctions on human rights, speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)

(AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A U.N. envoy on Thursday urged Western and Arab countries to lift sanctions imposed on Syria years ago, warning that the measures are exacerbating “the destruction and trauma” Syrian civilians have been exposed to since the country’s civil war started 11 years ago.

Alena Douhan, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, said the sanctions are leading to shortages in medicines and medical equipment that affect the lives of ordinary Syrians.

The statement, at the end of Douhan’s 12-day visit to the war-torn country, detailed what she described as “catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.”

Sanctions by the United States, the European Union and some Arab countries have been in place since 2011, after President Bashar Assad’s government cracked down on protests against his rule that began as part of Arab Spring uprisings sweeping the region. Syria quickly descended into civil war.

The sanctions have targeted the oil industry, money transfers and a number of institutions and officials, including Assad. Over the years, they were expanded to target officials blamed for repression and the use of chemical weapons.

“I urge the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that severely harm human rights and prevent any efforts for early recovery, rebuilding and reconstruction,” Douhan said, adding that 12 million Syrians grapple with food insecurity.

Douhan said that 90% of Syria’s population currently lives in poverty, with limited access to food, water, electricity, shelter, cooking and heating and fuel.

With more than half of Syria’s vital infrastructure either “completely destroyed or severely damaged,” the sanctions are undermining efforts towards economic recovery, she added.

Once an oil exporter, Syria now relies on imports, and higher fuel costs caused by the sanctions have pushed up prices in nearly every sector. The Syrian pounds now sells at about 5,000 to the dollar on the black market, compared to 47 pounds for $1 at the start of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions displaced and large parts of the country destroyed.

Some rights groups pushed back against Douhan’s assessment. The Syrian Network for Human Rights said Douhan should demand that the “Syrian regime ends its violations and crimes against humanity” as a precondition for lifting sanctions.

The group said Assad’s government has never launched an investigation into the killing and disappearance of tens of thousands of Syrians — and never held any official accountable.

“Therefore, we believe that more sanctions must be imposed on thousands of implicated individuals from the Syrian regime, in order to combat the culture of impunity,” it said.

Douhan said that blocking payments and refusal of deliveries by foreign producers and banks, coupled with sanctions-induced limited foreign currency reserves, “have caused serious shortages in medicines and specialized medical equipment, particularly for chronic and rare diseases.”

“No reference to good objectives of unilateral sanctions justifies the violation of fundamental human rights,” Douhan said.

____

Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were...
Associated Press

Idaho police seek car seen near site where 4 students killed

Police are asking for help finding the occupant of a car that was seen near where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death last month, saying that person could have "critical information" about the case.
24 hours ago
FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is seen in New York, Tuesday, June 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Weni...
Associated Press

Asian shares slip after tech stock slump on Wall St

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mostly lower in Asia on Thursday after Wall Street sagged under weakness in tech stocks. U.S. futures turned higher and oil prices rebounded more than $1 a barrel. Japan revised upward its GDP data to show the economy contracted less than earlier reported in July-September, in a sign the country […]
24 hours ago
Metropolitan Oleksandr delivers a religious service with clerics inside the Transfiguration of Jesu...
Associated Press

Scrutiny of Ukraine church draws praise, fear of overreach

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — After its searches of holy sites belonging to Ukraine’s historic Orthodox church, the nation’s security agency posted photos of evidence it recovered — including rubles, Russian passports and leaflets with messages from the Moscow patriarch. Supporters and detractors of the church debate whether such items are innocuous — or increase suspicions […]
24 hours ago
A woman has her routine COVID-19 throat swab at a testing site despite authorities starting to ease...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: China’s relaxed ‘zero-COVID’ brings big changes

BEIJING (AP) — In a move that caught many by surprise, China announced a potentially major easing of its rigid “zero-COVID” restrictions, without formally abandoning the policy altogether. It’s not clear what exactly prompted the move, although it follows the largest show of public dissent against the ruling Communist Party in more than 30 years […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Associate Justice Samuel Alito joins other members of the Supreme Court as they pose for a n...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy quip, Trump conspiracy top 2022 notable quote list

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A tart retort by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to a U.S. offer of help and a call by former U.S. President Donald Trump for the “termination” of parts of the Constitution top a Yale Law School librarian’s list of the most notable quotations of 2022. In February, only days after […]
24 hours ago
The marker of the grave of a small boy whose battered body body was found abandoned in a cardboard ...
Associated Press

Police to reveal identity of Philly’s slain ‘Boy in the Box’

Nearly 66 years after the battered body of a young boy was found stuffed inside a cardboard box, Philadelphia police are set to reveal the identity of the victim in the city’s most notorious cold case. Police say detective work and DNA analysis helped them learn the name of a youngster who’d been known to […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
UN envoy urges lifting of sanctions harming Syrian civilians