Sri Lanka: Shelling in Vanni Kills 16 Patients - ICRC
Sri Lanka: Shelling in Vanni Kills 16 Patients - ICRC Feb 11, 2009, 11:41 Digg this story!
Shiva Sharma - TNS
London: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today, at least 16 patients were killed in the shelling of a makeshift hospital in the, Puthukudiyirupu area (PTK), in the war zone in north-eastern Sri Lanka.
The Red Cross said in a statement that the area near the village of Putumattalan was hit by shelling on Monday. The ICRC called on both the government and the rebels to refrain from attacks on the wounded and medical personnel.
The ICRC is the only aid agency was allowed by the Sri Lankan government to operate in the war zone area in the North, after expelling U.N and many other aid agencies which were operating before September last year.
Since, January 26th over 1000 were killed and over 3000 injured when SF continuously shells fired on the so called 'Safe Zone' and hospitals in the area. Thousands of artillery shells have been fired into the safety zone in what was described as the most inhumane genocidal attacks on civilian population, according to a local aid worker.
SF which wants to see over 300,000 Tamil civilians who are living in the rebels? area to surrender, by bringing them to their extreme limits, has caused the carnage in the Vanni area for past few weeks. There is nobody available to help the wounded, according to the initial reports from the medical sources.
Sri Lanka gave directive to the ICRC which was operating in Vanni to quit immediately as they are no longer able to guarantee the safety and security of the ICRC.
Full text of the ICRC statement follows:
ICRC News Release No. 09/06
10 February 2009
Sri Lanka: ICRC evacuates over 240 wounded and sick from the Vanni by sea
Colombo/Geneva (ICRC) â€“ A ferry flying the flag of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is currently evacuating over 240 patients from Putumattalan to Trincomalee. They had fled Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital in the northern Vanni region on 4 February after it sustained repeated shelling.
The patients are expected to arrive in Trincomalee this evening and receive medical treatment. The operation started after both parties had granted safe passage. Civil authorities, medical staff, the fishermen's union and church representatives are also actively supporting the evacuation. An additional 160 patients still in Putumattalan should be evacuated on 11 February.
On Monday, Putumattalan was hit by shelling that killed at least 16 patients. "We are shocked that patients are not afforded the protection they are entitled to," said Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombo. "Once more, we call on both parties to meet their obligation under international humanitarian law to spare at all times the wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities at all times."
The ICRC is currently negotiating with both parties to continue evacuating the sick and wounded from the Vanni. "Medical facilities are no longer functioning. There are a few makeshift medical points, but these cannot cope with the increasing influx of patients," said Mr Castella. "Urgent medical evacuations must continue to take place regularly."
The ICRC remains extremely concerned about the plight of civilians still trapped in the Vanni, an area that has been hard hit by intense fighting in recent days. Most of the population is now displaced and completely dependent on outside aid, yet none has reached the area since 29 January. It is imperative that both parties immediately allow food and other urgently needed items to reach those who are trapped.