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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Medecins Sans Frontieres deny presence in war zone

The medical humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has expressed concern over an interview suggesting that it was present in 2009 in Sri Lanka’s war zone and received surrendering militants to be treated.  The interview published earlier this month in India and reproduced in the Sri Lanka media, the Secretary of Defence of Sri Lanka Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is purported to have said
that MSF France teams were present in the battle zone during the fightning.

“….Mr. Gotabaya said international agencies, including the French MSF (Medicines Sans Frontiers) and the Indian medical team, were present in the battle zone to receive survivors and surrendered militants,” a statement issued by the organization said.

It says that the MSF has made numerous requests to the government for access to the battle zone in Northern Sri Lanka and these requests were repeatedly denied, despite expressing extremely serious concerns about the fate of civilian populations who were trapped in the heavy fighting.

“Ahead of the final offensive, in September 2008, along with most other international organizations, MSF was given a government directive to leave Killinochchi.

“Thereafter, MSF repeatedly requested permission to enter the battle zones to provide medical care to the civilian population. Permission was sought from numerous ministeries including the Ministeries of Health as well as Defence, but at no point was this request granted during the final stages of the conflict in late 2008 and 2009,”the statement said.

It said that it is only after the end of the fighting in May 2009 that MSF was able to provide medical assistance to the victims of the conflict in North Vavuniya, and this was outside the battle zone at the Omanthai checkpoint.


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