Iran: Supreme leader rejects MSF help to combat Covid-19 pandemic

Iran, which had invited Doctors without Borders to send a team of doctors to help address the fast-spreading Covid-19, made a U-turn, fearing the doctors of the international humanitarian organization would be spies.


Iranian officials rejected the offer of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to build a hospital in Isfahan despite new documents that show Tehran was the one to reach out to the organization for help, The New Arab reports.


The MSF was set to fly in doctors, erect field hospitals and provide beds in Iran to help the Islamic Republic, which has emerged the worst-hit country in the Middle East by the disease, at the request of the Iranian ministries of health, interior and foreign affairs.

At least 29,400 people have been infected with the virus and over  2,200 killed  in the country.

However, the country’s top leader argued that the MSF doctors could go to Iran to spy on how the country is grappling with the disease.

“You might send people as doctors and therapists, maybe they would want to come here and see the effect of the poison they have produced in person,” he said.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also accused the US for creating the virus.

“I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their right mind would trust you to bring them medication?”

The health ministry later said the country will use its own resources and forces to cope with the contaminations.
“Due to Iran’s national mobilisation against the virus and the full use of the medical capacity of the armed forces, it is not necessary for now for hospital beds to be set up by foreign forces, and their presence is ruled out,” said Alireza Vahabzadeh, adviser to Iran’s health minister.

The MSF in a statement said it is surprised by the cancellation. The NGO however said it is fully committed to send a team whenever Tehran changes its mind.

Iran has rejected the US offer for help but the UAE has already sent two shipments of health equipment. The European Union (EU) also this week said it would send €20 million in the form health assistance.

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