SL troops on relief work outside SL for first time: PM
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament yesterday that the Sri Lanka Armed Forces had for the first time deployed its troops for duty outside the country's sovereign territory by dispatching an emergency response team to Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake.
He said the Sri Lanka Armed Forces were involved in UN peace keeping missions as part of their overseas assignment and therefore the deployment of troops for relief and rescue work in Nepal was significant.
The Prime Minister said he considered it the responsibility of the government to inform parliament.
"In Sri Lanka, there are no laws governing the deployment of troops outside its territory but I am informing parliament because I feel that it is my duty to do so. We hope it will serve as a precedent in the future if such a need arises," he said. "As the main centre of Theravada Buddhism, we continue to foster it in Sri Lanka. We preserved it for thousands of years. Sri Lanka has strong bonds with Nepal where Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha is located."
The Prime Minister said he and the President decided to provide relief assistance as soon as being told of the calamity in Kathmandu.
He said an aircraft carrying medical aid was dispatched to Nepal on Sunday.
"There is an emergency response team of 44 personnel including four doctors. The team is under the command of Major General Maitri Dias," the Prime Minister said.
He said Sri Lanka team had undertaken to rehabilitate Dholalgart hospital and nearby villages located 60 kilometres northeast of Kathmandu.Also, he said another aircraft with dry rations, drinking water, tents and other essential items would be sent on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister noted that Sri Lanka was among the first three countries to send in relief assistance to Nepal in the wake of its earthquake.