SL troops on re­lief work out­side SL for first time: PM

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KELUM BANDARA AND YO­HAN PER­ERA

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.

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