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Sri Lanka: ICRC evacuates more sick and wounded from the Vanni

16-02-2009 News Release 09/42

Geneva/Colombo (ICRC) – For the third time in a week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has evacuated by ferry patients and their immediate families from Putumattalan to Trincomalee, where they are receiving medical treatment. A total of 440 people were taken to Trincomalee in this latest operation.

This Tamil child, with part of her leg amputated, was one of 440 wounded and sick civilians evacuated by the ICRC from the combat zone in northern Sri Lanka. 
" Families continue to arrive in Putumattalan in a state of utter exhaustion and despair, hoping to be treated and rescued. But the reality is that there is an almost complete lack of medicine and relief items there, " said Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka. " We did save lives today but many people remain behind, helpless and anxiously waiting to be evacuated. It is now a matter of life and death. "
 " The support of civil and military authorities and that of the local community has ensured the success of these evacuations, but for many more people in the Vanni and in Putumattalan the situation remains critical, " said Morven Murchison-Lochrie, an ICRC nurse who took part in the operations. In Putumattalan, an ICRC team continues to support Ministry of Health staff who are providing treatment for the sick and wounded as best as they can. At Trincomalee Hospital, the ICRC has a surgeon, an anaesthetist and a nurse helping Sri Lankan colleagues cope with a huge influx of patients.

The ICRC continues to be present and active in the Vanni with the agreement of both parties. It remains committed to working in close proximity to displaced people in order to continue to meet their need for humanitarian assistance.

For further information, please contact:
  Sophie Romanens, ICRC Colombo, tel: +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 777 289 682
  Sarasi Wijeratne, ICRC Colombo, tel: +94 11 250 33 46 or +94 773 1588 44
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02