Amnesty International renewed its call today for President Obama to lift economic sanctions against Cuba, following a vote by the United Nations General Assembly condemning the decades-old embargo. The human rights organization, in a recent report, found the embargo was putting the lives of millions of Cubans at risk by blocking access to vital medicines and medical technologies.
In a record U.N. vote, 187 countries condemned U.S. sanctions against the island and said the United States should end its embargo against Cuba. This was the 18th consecutive year that a U.N. vote on sanctions was held. Israel and Palau joined the United States in voting against the resolution while Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.
“The U.S. embargo against Cuba is putting at risk the lives of millions by preventing them from accessing vital medicines and medical technologies,” said Kerrie Howard, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Americas program. “These sanctions are immoral and should be lifted immediately.”
Because of the U.S. embargo, Cuba faces severe restrictions in importing medicines, medical equipment or technologies directly from the United States or from any U.S. company abroad. The sanctions also limit other imports to the island and restrict travel and the transfer of money.
According to data from the United Nations, Cuba’s inability to import nutritional products for consumption at schools, hospitals and day care centers contributes to a high prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia. UNICEF reported that 37.5 per cent of Cuba’s children under three years old had anemia in 2007.
Children’s health was also put at risk by a decision from U.S. syringe suppliers to cancel an order of three million disposable syringes made in 2007 by UNICEF’s Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization when it became known that the units were destined for a program in Cuba.
For more information on the impact of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, please see: “The US embargo against Cuba: Its impact on economic and social rights”: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR25/007/2009/en
For the original press release go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20091029003&lang=e