Wanni crisis: US seeks Diaspora help

The United States will appeal to the Tamils living there to exert pressure on the LTTE to allow civilians trapped in the Wanni to move into safe areas, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said yesterday.
He said US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who is in charge of South Asian and Central Asian Affairs, had disclosed this in a telephone conversation on Friday to express to express solidarity with Sri Lanka following the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore.

Mr. Bogollagama said he had suggested the US Congressmen should also make the appeal to the Tamil Diaspora as some members of Congress could influence or pressurise them to a large degree.
During the discussions on the plight of civilians, Mr. Boucher asked that the government side also should exercise restraint when directing fire at areas where the civilians were trapped, he said.

Minister Bogollagama Richard Boucher

Meanwhile, in the wake of India’s decision to send a medical team to Pulmoddai to set up a make-shift hospital to treat civilians fleeing the fighting, several other countries including France and Switzerland also had offered assistance, the Minister said.

The Pulmoddai medical facility will be opened next Friday. Meanwhile the Presidential Secretariat in a statement yesterday denied media reports that some civilians had starved to death.

The statement said such reports were based on a letter to the Mullaitivu Government Agent by Regional Health Services Director Dr. Varatharajah, on March 4. Such deaths were mentioned in this letter.
However the Health Ministry Secretary had made inquiries about this from Dr. Varatharajah, who had admitted that his report to the GA, giving the cause of deaths of 13 people brought to the Putumattalan hospital as being due to starvation, was not based on clinical or any scientific evidence of starvation, as there had been no post-mortem inquiries held to ascertain the cause of death, the Secretariat said.

“The Government is committed to ensure the welfare of the IDPs in the North, including the supply of food, medicines and other essentials. It is necessary to emphasize that there has been no case of any citizen of those parts dying of starvation, and the government will take all measures to prevent such a tragic occurrence,” the Secretariat said.

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