Sri Lanka - Hoax about dead and injured in Mullaitivu
An “urgent appeal” doing the rounds in the media and diplomatic circles, UN and relief agencies, and as a widely distributed e-mail message referring to a “Human Catastrophe and Medical Emergency” in the Vanni, reporting the alleged deaths of more than 300 and injury to 1000 in Mullaitivu is found to be a total fabrication.
This is issued as an “URGENT APPEAL to the Government of Sri Lanka, the ICRC, the UN and the international community for medical supplies and medical teams to be sent to the Mullaitivu district.” This false appeal refers to an “acute shortage of essential drugs and medical personnel in hospitals in the Mullaitivu District”, aims at showing a major humanitarian catastrophe the area.
This false “appeal” refers to “heavy fighting and continuous multi-barrel artillery shelling has resulted in more than that 300 internally displaced persons being killed and over 1000 ‘hundred’ injured in Suthanthirapuram, Udaiyaarkaddu and Vallipuram in the Mullaitivu District”.
Dr. Varatharaja, the Regional Director of Health Services (RDGS) Mullaitivu, who is purported to be the originator of this “appeal” has denied any association with it, and states its contents are false and exaggerated; that it has not originated from him or his office, and that he does not agree with its contents, and that this “appeal” circulated in order to embarrass him.
Here is the text of the statement issued by Dr. Athula Kahandliyanage, Secretary, Ministry of Healthcare & Nutrition, establishing that this “appeal” is a total fabrication. The text of the false appeal follows.
Your kind attention is drawn to an appeal 26/01/2009, which has been circulated widely including to diplomatic circles and the media, purported to have been published by Dr. Varatharaja, Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS), Mullaitivu calling for the attention of the Government, Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka, ICRC, UN Agencies and international community to the alleged 300 deaths and 1000 injured of civilians living in the uncleared areas of the Mullaitivu district as a result of continuous multi barrel artillery shelling, during heavy fighting in those areas of the Mullaitivu district.
It also says that there is an acute shortage of essential drugs and medical personnel in the hospitals in the Mullaitivu district and has given a list of drugs that are in short supply and appealed for immediate supply of these and additional medical personnel.
As Secretary of Healthcare & Nutrition, I feel it is my duty to share with you the following. I am in contact with Dr. Varatharaja, RDHS Mullaitivu and with Dr. Sathyamoorthy, RDHS, Kilinochchi regularly and at present on a daily basis by telephone. The Advisor for North and East to the Hon. Minister of Healthcare & Nutrition, Dr. V. Jaganathan is in constant contact with these Directors. Dr. V. Jeganathan has been appointed specially to coordinate and provide required supplies and assistance to maintain the Health Services in the North & East. All the drugs and supplies requested by the uncleared areas even before the humanitarian operations were started in Vanni were supplied without a break, up to now. The 2009 first quarter of drugs to Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi has been sent. The Mullaitivu supplies are awaiting road clearance and will be delivered soon. Action is being taken by the Ministry to expedite the process.
I must mention here that the first quarter drugs to these districts have been dispatched by the Ministry on priority even before the other districts were supplied. Furthermore, I wish to state with utmost responsibility that I have been contacted by Dr. Vartharaja twice today, 27/1/2009 and he has categorically denied that the above mentioned public appeal has been made by him or originated from his office and he further stated that he does not agree with the contents of this appeal and that its contents are false and exaggerated in order to embarrass him. However, he requested me to expedite the delivery of the first quarter drugs from Vavuniya as the stocks were getting depleted.
He further said that he does not have access to e-mail or fax facility to release such a statement and expressed his dismay and concern about it. It is therefore obvious that this has been done by destructive elements with sinister motives who want to embarrass the government and implicate Dr. Varatharaja with false propaganda. He also sought advice from me as to what he should do when the troops advanced towards the Pudukkudiyiruppu hospital. I advised him to move into the cleared areas with the patients to which request he very clearly replied that the LTTE has not given him permission to do so and that he feared to do it without their permission.
He also said that there had been only six deaths and 15 wounded following a shell falling into the Pudukkudiyiruppu hospital last week and on further inquiry, he said he was not sure whether it was fired by the government forces or LTTE. He also said that there were about 300 injured admitted to Pudukkudiyiruppu hospital during the last few days.
Gathering from what was revealed, I am of the opinion that so many civilians have not been wounded as claimed by the above release. It has been found that the terrorists fight in civil clothes and when they get wounded they can be mistakenly considered as civilians. Furthermore, the terrorists forcibly keeping the civilians as a human shield may result in civilians getting wounded by accident.
I would appeal to the UN and other influential groups to persuade the terrorists to release the civilians from their custody and allow them to get to cleared areas where we have arranged medical services to treat them.
Here is the text of the false release
Office of the Regional Director of Health Services
26 January 2009
Human Catastrophe & Medical Emergency in the Vanni
Heavy fighting and continuous multi barrel artillery shelling has resulted in more than 300 Internally displaced parsons being killed and over 1000 hundred injured in Suthanthirapuram, Udaiyaarkaddu, and Vallipuram in the Mullaitivu District.
We are making an URGENT APPEAL to the Government of Sri Lanka, ICRC, the UN, and the International community for medical supplies and medical teams to be sent to the District to assist our staff. We currently only have 9 MMBS Doctors.
The nature of the injuries and the number of the injuries is such that if these medical supplies, do not arrive in the next 24 hours many of the injured will die
1) Blood Bags
2) Blood Transfusion sets
3) IV Fluids
4) IV giving set
5) IV Cannulas of different size
IV - Benzyl pennicilllin
V - Morphine
lignocaine with adrenaline
Urinary catheters, Bags
Intercoatal drainage tube
Note : The spellings of drugs etc... are as in the original false document.
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