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Civilians facing life or death situation: ICRC

[DailyMirror, Tuesday, 17 February 2009 20:22 No Comment]

Hundreds of patients moved to hospitals in North

  • Health Ministry said that almost all the injured were in urgent need of nutritious food
  • Minister instructs his officials to pay special attention to more than 500 expectant mothers living in five camps in Vavuniya and three camps in Settikulam
  • Families continue to arrive in Putumattalan in a state of utter exhaustion and despair, hoping to be treated and rescued.

The ICRC has transferred from the Trincomalee hospital to other hospitals in the North, some 760 injured civilians and expectant mothers who arrived in Trincomalee from un-cleared areas in Mullaitivu, a Health Ministry official said yesterday.

 

W.D.M.Wanninayake of the Health Ministry said that almost all the injured were in urgent need of nutritious food as they were in a physically run-down condition and had gone hungry for days.

 

Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva appointed a committee headed by the Director General of the Health Services to look into the immediate health care needs of civilians in the North and the committee is said to have filed a report after visiting the area during the weekend.

 

Mr. Wanninayake said based on the committee report, 10 medical officers, four surgeons, two anaesthetists, one gynaecologist, one paediatrician and 50 nurses, with medical equipment and drugs were dispatched to the hospitals in the North.

 

“The Trincomalee district hospital is already overcrowded after a huge influx of patients,” Mr. Wanninayaka said.

 

Minister De Silva instructed his officials to pay special attention to more than 500 expectant mothers living in five camps in Vavuniya and three camps in Settikulam.

 

He said the expectant mothers had not attended clinics while in LTTE-controlled territory and were suffering from malnutrition but the Ministry would give them with special nutritional food packets and constantly monitor their health condition.

 

Mr. Wanninayake said arrangements had been made for expectant mothers to have their confinement under the supervision of medical officers and medical staff at the camps where they are being housed.

 

The 760 patients were distributed to the various hospitals as follows: 200 to Vavuniya, 84 to Kantale, 65 to Polonnaruwa, and 33 to Tambalagamuwa.

 

Meanwhile The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said yesterday the situation faced by civilians trapped in LTTE-controlled areas in the Wanni was now a matter of life or death.

 

"Families continue to arrive in Putumattalan in a state of utter exhaustion and despair, hoping to be treated and rescued. But the reality is that there is an almost complete lack of medicine and relief items there. We helped save lives today but many still remain behind, helpless and anxiously waiting to be evacuated. It is now a matter of life and death,” ICRC (Sri Lanka) Head Paul Castella said.

 

"The support of civil and military authorities and that of the local community has ensured the success of these evacuations, but for many more people in the Wanni and in Putumattalan the situation remains critical," said Morven Murchison-Lochrie an ICRC doctor who took part in the operations.

 

An ICRC team continues to support the Health Ministry staff that are providing treatment for the sick and wounded as best as they can in Putumattalan while at the Trincomalee Hospital, the ICRC has a surgeon, an anaesthetist and a nurse helping Sri Lankan colleagues to cope with a huge influx of patients.

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