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27June2017

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Sri Lanka’s relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of the earthquake concludes with accolades from Nepal

BThe Nepal authorities have warmly commended the Sri Lanka contingent led by Maj. Gen. Maithri Dias and Brig. Jagath Gunawardena, on its excellent relief work during the two-week rescue and relief operation in Nepal following the earthquake on 25 April 2015. The Sri Lankan Contingent returned to Sri Lanka on Monday night (11 May).

 Nepal's commendations were conveyed by General Gaurav Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana Chief of the Army Staff(COAS) of Nepal during a meeting at the Nepalese Army Headquarters in Kathmandu with Maj. Gen. Maithri Dias and Brig. Jagath Gunawardena. The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of Nepal also requested Maj Gen. Dias to convey Nepal's sincere appreciation and gratitude to the President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister and other relevant Ministers as well as Secretary, Defence and Commanders of the Tri-Services for rapidly deploying the Sri Lankan contingent in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The 141-strong Sri Lankan contingent was specifically tasked for relief work in the difficult region of Dolaghat and other areas in the Kavre district, in Nepal. The team had travelled deep into villages which are located in hills ranging from 1500m – 2200m to treat patients and to clear roads. In the midst of frequent aftershocks, and danger of landslides, the Sri Lankan team travelled distances up to 20 km a day to reach the needy, and the Medical Corps had treated over 2442 patients. Gen. Rana has instructed the Nepalese staff officers to note the methods and plans being executed by the Sri Lankan contingent.

Gen. Rana appreciated the efforts of Sri Lanka Army Engineering Corps who cleared over 6 Kms of roads blocked for days due to the earthquake, which had hindered transportation of relief and evacuation of seriously injured persons. The Engineering Corps had also repaired water links, suspension bridges and other utilities, as well as some basic infrastructure. Gen. Rana deeply appreciated that Sri Lanka used its own funds in these operations, hiring heavy vehicles, equipment and other services.

Maj. Gen. Dias had conveyed his appreciation to Gen. Rana and the Nepal Armed Forces for excellent cooperation being extended to the Sri Lankan contingent. Prior to departure, the Nepalese Army hosted a breakfast in honour of the Sri Lankan contingent at the Panchkhal Military Training Centre, Nepal.

Earlier, on the instructions of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and guided by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Health, and Disaster Management as well as Secretaries of key Ministries, Sri Lanka launched a rapid relief and response mechanism with a 24-hour Operations Room that was setup at the Disaster Management Centre, in Colombo. This Mechanism in Colombo led by Secretary, Disaster Management Mr. W.M. Bandusena, and Maj. Gen. Leanard Mark Director General, Disaster Management Center consisted of personnel from the Disaster Management Center, Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health, SriLankan Airlines, Customs Dept and others. The Unit in close coordination with Sri Lanka's Ambassador W.M. Senewirathne and the Sri Lanka Embassy in Kathmandu coordinated repatriation of Sri Lankan nationals who wished to return to Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the earthquake and ensured the timely dispatch to Nepal of personnel, emergency relief in Sri Lanka Air Force and SriLankan Airlines flights. A total number of over 75 Sri Lankans were repatriated in several flights. Over 50 tonnes of relief items including, medicines, food stuff, tents, clothes, footwear, water and other essentials from the Government, and Sri Lankan public and private institutions were dispatched. Monetary contributions received from private institutions and the Sri Lankan public will be utilized for the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase.

In a further display of solidarity with Nepal, Disaster Management Minister A.H.M. Fowzie accompanied by senior officials including Secretary to the Prime Minister called on the Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on 29 April and conveyed the condolences of President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, the Government and people of Sri Lanka. During this visit they also surveyed the damage and observed the progress of the operations of the Sri Lanka contingent deployed in Nepal.

The rapid response and relief operations in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal is the first of its kind undertaken overseas by a Sri Lankan contingent, thus launching a new phase in Sri Lanka's role in rapid disaster response in the region.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Colombo
12 May 2015

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