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China calls for the lifting of sanctions against Syria to fight coronavirus

April 1, 2020 at 9:38 am

UN Security Council at United Nations headquarters in New York, United States on 11 February, 2020 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]

A Chinese envoy to the United Nations has called for the lifting of international sanctions against Syria, stressing that they will obstruct the country’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s permanent representative to the UN Zhang Jun addressed the UN Security Council yesterday via a virtual teleconferencing meeting, stating that “We call for the complete and immediate lifting of unilateral coercive measures.”

Zhang – also president of the council for this month of March – referred to the issue as one of human rights, claiming that “We are seriously concerned about the negative impact of unilateral sanctions on countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic, especially for vulnerable countries like Syria… civilians and innocent people are suffering severely from those sanctions.”

Zhang also spoke on the situation in Syria with regards to its ongoing nine-year-long war and praised the alleged significant improvements in northwestern Syria following the ceasefire agreement struck between Turkey and Russia in the first week of March.

“We appreciate their diplomatic efforts and encourage relevant parties to continue implementing the ceasefire,” he stated.

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He expressed China’s desire for a political solution to the conflict, claiming that “It is our consistent position to support the political solution to the conflict in Syria. We appreciate the painstaking efforts of the special envoy [Geir Pedersen] and encourage him to continue facilitating dialogue between the Syrian parties, toward an inclusive Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process.”

He particularly reiterated that the future of the country must be decided by the Syrian people, without foreign interference.”

On the issue of the spread of coronavirus within Syria, Zhang said “the potential impact of COVID-19 on Syria is of growing concern, even though the current number of confirmed cases in Syria is comparatively limited.”

While Syria has put the number of its coronavirus cases at 10 so far, there is much speculation about the regime’s cover-up of its actual number of cases, with other reports putting the number at 57.

READ: UN: Syria coronavirus cases just ‘the tip of the iceberg’

“We note that the Syrian government has taken a series of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The World Health Organisation is actively engaged. We appreciate the efforts,” he continued, adding that China “has already provided a batch of testing kits for Syria. We’re willing to continue to provide assistance within our capacity to Syria. We call on other countries to also do the same.”

Since the virus was first confirmed in the country over a week ago, regime authorities have imposed strict measures throughout recent weeks, including the closure of schools, parks, restaurants, and other public facilities, and a ban on public transport earlier this week, along with the nationwide curfew.