23 March 2020 EU announces €20 million in humanitarian aid to Iran

Following the video conference of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers on 23 March, HR/VP Josep Borrell announced that the EU is going to provide Iran with  €20 million in humanitarian aid and to support the country’s request for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Borrell claimed that, although the EU “has not been able to provide much aid”, the amount agreed could help Iran mitigate the economic impact of the outbreak. Iran’s economy will now deal with a decrease in non-oil exports, given that many of its neighbouring countries have shut down borders following the pandemic. After rejecting a US offer for humanitarian assistance, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on 23 March that Washington should lift its sanctions, which have long isolated the Iranian economy and now affect the country’s ability to procure medical equipment from international markets. In a similar vein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachlete argued that, in countries like Iran, “sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended” to avoid the collapse of the local health system. Iran is the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, with 21600 confirmed cases and 1685 death as of 22 March.