Sri Lankan party unhappy with Indian medical unit’s presence

March 17th, 2009 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, March 17 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s radical Marxist party Tuesday raised concern in parliament over the presence of a full-fledged Indian medical unit in the country to treat the wounded war-displaced civilians from the north.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), known for its anti-Indian stance, has said that the arrival of the 52-member Indian medical team, which also included members from the Indian army’s medical unit, “was posing a threat to the island’s sovereignty, integrity and national security”.

Making a special statement in the island’s 225-member parliament, the JVP’s parliamentary group leader Anurakumara Dissanayake has said that the arrival of the Indian medical team “was portraying a bad picture internationally that Sri Lanka cannot look after its own people”.

The Indian medical team comprising physicians, surgeons, para-medical staff, technical staff and medical equipment reached Pulmoddai, in the eastern port city Trincomalee last week. They have started treating the war-affected displaced civilians in the north from this week.

The team led by Vasanthkumar, a doctor, has establish an emergency medical unit, including a full-fledged hospital, at Pulmoddai, in the eastern Trincomalee district. It aims to supplement the existing medical facilities of the Sri Lanka’s health ministry in that area for the internally displace people (IDP).

Indian diplomatic officials here said that the Indian medical team can function on its own in terms of logistics and medical infrastructures to treat the war-displaced civilians.

The JVP parliamentarian has also asked the government whether it has granted permission to India to set up a hospital in Pulmoddai, highlighting the fact the Indian medical team included members of the Indian armed forces.

Replying to the queries, Minister for Healthcare and Nutrition Nimal Sripala de Silva has told the house that the fears and theories expressed by the JVP were nothing but “the figment of their own imagination”.

Stressing that helping the internally displaced people “is the sole responsibility of the government of Sri Lanka and not anybody else”, the health minister has said India as a friendly neighbour has been “so kind enough to assist” the island nation in the time of need.

He said that the presence of the Indian medical team would not affect the island’s sovereignty by any means and added that it was very common in any part of the world that the relief assistance team of this nature would comprise some members of the armed forces.

Over 35,000 people from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-held areas in Mullaitivu district have fled the war-zone and entered the government-held areas since the beginning of 2009. Most of them are being housed at welfare centres and transit camps in the northern Vavuniya town.

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