India to send emergency medical unit for Sri Lanka’s war victimsFebruary 27th, 2009 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS
Colombo, Feb 26 (IANS) Reiterating New Delhi’s concern for thousands of civilians caught in the fighting between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels, visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Thursday said a full-fledged emergency medical unit would be rushed to Sri Lanka to help the war-displaced.
“Our main concern is the immediate humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka’s north where thousands of civilians are trapped in a shrinking territory. A consignment of emergency medical unit would be sent to Sri Lanka soon to directly help the internally displaced people (IDPs),” Menon told Colombo-based Indian reporters here Thursday.
Menon said he held talks with the Sri Lankan authorities during his stay in Colombo on the sidelines of the the 36th session of the SAARC Standing Committee, and both India and Sri Lanka “have agreed to work together to address the urgent medical needs of these civilians”.
India’s medical emergency medical unit comprising doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and support staff and necessary medical equipment and supplies would be directly assisting thousands of IDPs who have come to the government-held areas.
“The idea is to help them immediately. We want to minimize the humanitarian plight of the civilians,” Menon said, adding that New Delhi would work with the Tamil Nadu government to get down more relief supplies.
Noting that India would also work with the Sri Lankan government for the rehabilitation and reconstruction process in the island’s north, Menon said: “There should be a movement towards a political solution - so that the people can take charge of their own lives.”
“We need to look beyond rehabilitation and rebuilding. It is more than devolution. It is a political solution. For us it is very important,” the foreign secretary said, adding the discussions with Sri Lanka on this would continue for the next two days.
The decision to send emergency medical assistance came after New Delhi discussed with Colombo ways to help the civilians caught in the conflict between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Thousands of civilians remain trapped in a small chunk of territory still held by the LTTE in the northeastern Mullaitivu district. Early this week, Colombo turned down an offer for a ceasefire by the Tamil Tigers and insisted that the rebels should lay down their weapons and surrender unconditionally.
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