Congressman David Trone Calls on State Department to Provide Humanitarian Relief for Iranian People in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

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April 1, 2020
Press Release

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov

            Congressman David Trone Calls on State Department to Provide Humanitarian Relief for Iranian People in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S Congressman David Trone (MD-06) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to express concerns regarding the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Iranian people. Trone serves as the Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism.

The Iranian people currently lack access to medicines, medical equipment, and supplies desperately needed to address the coronavirus pandemic. The letter requests that the United States provide targeted sanctions relief that will allow critical supplies to be shipped to Iran in order to care for the Iranian people.

You can find a copy of the letter here.

Below is the text of the letter:

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

I write to express my concern for the people of Iran as they struggle to respond to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Iran was one of the earliest countries to experience a widespread outbreak, with at least 38,000 cases and 2,600 dead so far according to official counts, though most agree that numbers are actually much higher. Unlike most other countries, Iran has unique challenges brought on by the terrible choices of its leaders -- namely, heavy sanctions that now prevent full access to necessary medical care. I urge you to provide humanitarian relief that will allow the Iranian people to access to medicines, medical equipment, and supplies desperately needed to address the coronavirus pandemic.

I cannot deny the mistakes made by Iran’s leadership that have at least contributed to this crisis. They failed to take the pandemic seriously early and were too slow to react to the growing public health threat -- clearly endangering the lives of millions with inadequate isolation and quarantine measures. Nor will I ignore the malign activities of Iran’s regime that are worthy of condemnation, such as support for terrorist proxies that kill innocent civilians and U.S. service members, illegal weapons transfers, and pursuit of a harmful nuclear program. But we can have compassion for Iranian civilians who are suffering and dying from COVID-19 while we recognize the faults of their leadership and seek to hold the regime accountable.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, over the past few quarters, the Trump Administration has reduced the number of licenses granted to companies that export medical equipment and supplies such as oxygen generators and respirators to Iran. U.S. sanctions have also hampered Iran’s ability to import components needed to produce medications. I was pleased to hear the announcement of the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement at the end of February and that the U.S. has offered direct aid to help combat the virus, but I firmly believe we are not yet doing enough to get the people of Iran the help they need.

I therefore strongly urge you to provide targeted sanctions relief that will allow critical supplies to be shipped to Iran. Both the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations took similar steps when humanitarian assistance was needed following devastating earthquakes. Such action is a sign of American empathy, compassion, and strength, and it is desperately needed now more than ever.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter. I look forward to receiving your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research. 

 

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