June 20, Colombo: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) commended the Sri Lanka Navy for its “valuable and effective” collaboration in evacuating civilians stranded in the war zone during the final phase of the war with Tamil Tiger terrorists, a recently uncovered document reveals.
In a letter dated 14 February 2009, Paul Castella, then Head of ICRC in Sri Lanka, on behalf of the organization expressed his appreciation to the then Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and the Navy for “valuable and effective collaboration to save many people’s lives” following the successful medical evaluation that took place on 10 and 12 February.
The ICRC head said it was a complex operation, which was extremely demanding for all.
“Your men, either at sea or on land, succeeded in an exemplary manner to carry out their essential task to protect the State and its citizens and simultaneously to care for the sick and wounded,” Castella wrote in the letter, a copy of which obtained by ColomboPage recently.
“They displayed a strict discipline and respect of rules of engagement and at the same time a very respectful and kind attitude to help those in need,” the letter said.
The ICRC official, in addition to others who were involved in the medical evacuation, commended especially, the service of Director General of Operations at the Navy Head Quarters, the officiating Commander Eastern Naval Command, in Trincomalee and the Deputy Area Commander North in Jaffna for their “many sleepless hours coordinating the operation and played a crucial role to make it (the operation) a success.”
(Sri Lanka Navy Photo)
During the last few months of the war amid intense fighting Sri Lanka Navy provided security to the ICRC and assisted to ferry over 11,000 sick and injured Tamil civilians in 31 operations over the sea to safety in Trincomalee.
The Naval doctors provided emergency medical treatment to the patients upon disembarkation at Pulmoddai in Trincomalee and rushed them to the field hospitals in the area.