Saturday 23 September 2017

Iranians deprived of medicines as sanctions bite deep

Robert Tait in Tehran

Iranians are abandoning traditional eating habits, being thrown out of work and face running short of medicines as the nation braces itself for fresh sanctions aimed at forcing its leaders to scrap their suspected nuclear programme.

As an EU boycott of Iran's oil export comes into effect, reports from inside the country suggest that international sanctions combined with government subsidy cuts are creating an increasingly harsh environment that is depriving ordinary people of basic necessities.

The EU ban, which began yesterday, came after talks in Moscow last month between the Western powers and Islamic republic officials failed to break the impasse over Tehran's uranium enrichment programme. It is seen by the West as a front for building an atom bomb despite Iran's insistence that it is for peaceful purposes.

It is the latest in a catalogue of embargoes that have gradually undermined the Iranian economy.

But while previous blows have been borne stoically, recent developments have imposed widespread hardships.

Middle-class families are giving up chicken, red meat, fruit, and even sugar as inflation -- triggered largely by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's abolition in 2010 of extensive subsidies -- renders once-staple items unaffordable.

Unemployment in Iran's industrial heartland has soared to an estimated 35pc because factories unable to import vital goods due to sanctions are forced to sack workers. Rising joblessness is fuelled by Iran's exclusion last March from the Swift banking system, preventing businessmen from carrying out international transactions.

"It has become a humanitarian issue," said Mehrdad Emadi, an Iranian economic consultant based in the UK. "The economy is gradually being strangled and factories dependent on free trade are withering away." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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