Help is needed to save the lives of Venezuela’s cancer patients affected by US sanctions.

“The lives of Venezuelan transplant patients who are stranded in foreign countries, as well as those who hope to travel abroad for life-saving operations, are threatened,” the experts said. “A trip abroad for treatment has become the only hope for hundreds of critically ill patients.”

The group of Special Rapporteurs said they had alerted the United States Government and other countries and entities with an interest in the situation, asking them to “mitigate the unexpected consequences of the sanctions and restore treatment for people whose lives are now in danger. “

Assume the responsibility

“They must take full responsibility for the effect that their actions have on the fundamental rights to life and health of all people around the world.”

Experts say that third countries, regional groupings, banks and private companies have been overly cautious in their dealings with Venezuela, fearing that they may inadvertently violate US sanctions, imposed on some individual Venezuelans and government assets in 2015 and 2019. .

As a result, the money cannot be transferred outside of Venezuela and some patients have been stranded or destitute in the countries where they went for treatment, experts said.

Under the 2019 sanctions, all Venezuelan state assets were frozen in the US and all transactions with US citizens and companies were prohibited.

Charity case

Experts said the key concern surrounds a program run by Fundación Simón Bolívar, the charitable arm of the U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation, that helped cancer patients, including many children, travel abroad to receive transplants and other life-saving treatments.

Hundreds of these patients used to be linked to a national transplant program with the Venezuelan government, independent UN experts said, but their treatment was halted when the United States denied the government greater control over Citgo.

‘Devastating consequences’

“Targeting” the state oil and gas company, “as a way to control Venezuela’s political agenda, has had devastating consequences for hundreds of people in treatment for transplant rejection, both in Venezuela and abroad,” said the experts.

People on a state transplant waiting list have also been informed that their treatments will not continue.. “

There are about 190 cancer patients on the waiting list for treatment abroad, and about 14 children, including three young children, died between 2017 and 2020 awaiting treatment under the program, according to experts.

Primary protection

These cases illustrate the need for full protection of fundamental human rights, the experts said: “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all persons affected by direct international action, even those outside their jurisdiction. jurisdiction or effective control, no matter what your original intention was.

“While the right to health and the right to life are fundamental for all people throughout the world, We call on all States, banks and private companies to assume full responsibility for the effects of their actions. on people, and withdraw sanctions, zero risk and on compliance with policies that affect fundamental human rights ”.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as Special procedures of the Human rights council and work on a voluntary basis. They are not UN personnel nor do they receive a salary. They are independent of any government or organization and serve only in an individual capacity.


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