News In Brief

[TamilNet, Saturday, 04 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
An MSF delegation visits a hospital in trouble. The Sri Lankan government continues to avoid negotiations with the LTTE and a Muslim delegation returning to Jaffna gets a pleasant surprise.

MSF visit a hospital in crisis

A delegation from the Medicenes Sans Frontiers (MSF) headquarters in Colombo visited Manthikai hospital this week.

The medical team wanted to assess the deterioration of medical services, which has precipitated a crisis in the area, for themselves.

The lack of qualified medical staff stands out amongst the hospital's other problems.Critically ill patients cannot be operated on as there isn't a single anesthetist at the hospital.

MSF officials from Paris and Colombo were on a fact finding mission after the NGO's at the hospital services were suspended last week, on a directive from the Sri Lankan government.

While Dr. Kathiravelpillai, DMO, Point Pedro, was showing the delegation around the wards, patients welcomed the MSF officials and beseeched the organisation to return, unaware that the situation had come about due to government intervention.

Ancient Jaffna Mosque undamaged

A delegation of Muslims visiting Jaffna were pleasantly surprised to find that an ancient Mosque had suffered no damage.

The Mosque at Chaaddi, Velanai was built in 1553 in memory of the venerated Muslim saint Sultan Abdul Cader. The building had been looked after by Mr. Singham, a Tamil resident of the city since 1990.

Mr. M G Basheer formerly deputy Mayor of Jaffna Municipal Council said that the gesture by Mr. Singham showed how racial amity and religious harmony could be fostered.

"Though we have lost our homes, our mosques remain safeguarded as a memento of Muslim - Tamil unity in Jaffna," he said.

Much of Jaffna was destroyed by widespread shelling and bombing by Sri Lankan military forces over many years. Places of worship are often hit by air and artillery strikes, destroying the buildings and killings hundreds of civilians.

According to the official figures, Sri Lankan military action had destroyed over 1700 (mostly Hindu) places of worship until 1992. No figures have been recorded since.

Sri Lanka dodges talks with LTTE

Sri Lanka's Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration, Prof. G L Peiris said that the time for negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam would be after the Draft Constitution was placed before Parliament.

At this week's cabinet press briefing, he said that the Government was not against talks with the LTTE and the need for such talks might arise once the PA's devolution package was placed before Parliament.

Emphasising that a bipartisan PA - UNP consensus was essential for providing a firm base for talks, Minister Peiris laid down three conditions for negotiations.

He said the LTTE should agree to talk about the core issues regarding the political settlement, that it should agree to conclude talks within a specific time-frame and that the PA and UNP should agree to a framework within which talks can be held.

The LTTE have refused to talk to the Sri Lankan government whilst the pre-dominantly Sinhalese Sri Lankan army occupies Tamil territory. The Tigers also want an international mediator present at any talks.


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