ICRC transports 30 wounded from Vaharai
[TamilNet, Monday, 11 December 2006, 14:03 GMT]
The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) Batticaloa Monday noon transported 30 wounded, including 7 children in 7 boats from Vaharai to Valaichenai hospital, at least one guardian accompanying each child. The critically wounded were being transferred to Batticaloa hospital. Meanwhile, LTTE's Military Spokesman Irasiah Ilanthirayan told media that Sri Lanka Army fired artilleries hit the ground at the close vicinity while the injured were being boarded, causing the ICRC to abandon one part of their mission. The ICRC in a press statement said many difficulties had to be overcome to organize this evacuation and said more injured patients were waiting to be evacuated.
The full text of the press release follows ICRC:
The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) evacuated Monday 30 injured civilians, including 7 children, and 16 caretakers from Vaharai, in the Batticaloa district of eastern Sri Lanka, where more than 30,000 displaced people are caught inside heavy fighting between the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Seven boats sailing under the ICRC flag reached this morning Vaharai hospital, which the dead and wounded had been brought, and took on board all the severe cases and transferred them to Valaichchenai hospital, a better equipped facility in the government-controlled area. The evacuation was conducted in cooperation with the medical staff of the Italian Red Cross.
"Many difficulties had to be overcome to organize this evacuation", said Martin de Boer, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Batticaloa, who led the operation, "but thanks to the security guarantees provided by both parties to the conflict, we finally succeeded in reaching Vaharai hospital and evacuating the most serious cases. However, other more injured civilians are waiting to be evacuated".
In addition to this latest operation, in response to an urgent request from the Health Service Division in Jaffna, the ICRC today sent by flight more than 1000kg of drugs to the peninsula. The donation consists of medicine needed for treatement of the outbreak of Chikungunya, including 500,000 Paracetamol tablets and other analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
The ICRC reminds both parties to the conflict of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law. It urgently calls upon both parties to ensure the protection of the civilian population as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. Finally the ICRC urges the parties to respect the freedom of movement of internally displaced people.