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The UN representative calls for the lifting of sanctions that harm civilians in Syria

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A U.N. official on Thursday called on Western and Arab nations to lift sanctions on Syria…

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A U.N. official on Thursday called on Western and Arab countries to lift sanctions imposed on Syria several years ago, warning that the measures would worsen the “devastation and trauma” suffered by Syrian civilians since the country’s 11-year-old civil war began. years ago.

The UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, Alena Dougan, said the sanctions are leading to shortages of medicines and medical equipment, affecting the lives of ordinary Syrians.

The statement, made at the end of Dovgan’s 12-day visit to the war-torn country, detailed what she called the “disastrous consequences of unilateral sanctions in all areas 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 al-Assad’s government cracked down on protests against his rule that began as part of the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region. Syria quickly descended into civil war.

The sanctions hit the oil industry, money transfers and a number of institutions and officials, including Assad. Over the years, they have been extended to officials accused of repression and the use of chemical weapons.

“I call for the immediate lifting of all unilateral sanctions that seriously harm human rights and hinder any efforts to speed up recovery, reconstruction and reconstruction,” Douhan said, adding that 12 million Syrians are struggling with food insecurity.

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

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

Once an oil exporter, Syria is now dependent on imports, and higher fuel costs caused by sanctions have pushed up prices in almost every sector. Syrian pounds now sell for about 5,000 to the dollar on the black market, compared to 47 pounds to the dollar at the start of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands were killed, millions were displaced, and much of the country was destroyed.

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

The group said the Assad government had never opened an investigation into the killings and disappearances of tens of thousands of Syrians and had never held any officials accountable.

“Therefore, we believe it is necessary to impose additional sanctions on thousands of Syrian regime-linked individuals to combat the culture of impunity,” it said.

Davgan said that the blocking of payments and refusal of supplies by foreign manufacturers and banks, combined with limited foreign exchange reserves as a result of the sanctions, “have led to severe shortages of drugs and specialized medical equipment, especially for the treatment of chronic and rare diseases.”

“No references to the good goals of unilateral sanctions justify the violation of basic human rights,” Dovgan said.

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

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