Approx. 1,200 Northern children still with war shrapnel

Former Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) MP Sivasakthy Ananthan yesterday (20) said that around 1,200 war-affected children in the Northern Province are still bearing shrapnel in their bodies and are yet to receive adequate healthcare to cope with their conditions.

Back in 2016, when Ananthan was a MP, during the Budget debates, he pointed out to then-Prime Minister and incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe about the difficulties faced by these children and the lack of healthcare facilities for the children and adults bearing pieces of shrapnel. In response, Wickremesinghe had requested Ananthan to initiate a dialogue with the Minister of Health at the time and to submit a report of the numbers affected. Speaking to The Morning, Ananthan said that he had submitted a report including the details of 750 children out of 1,200 in 2016 as requested by Wickremesinghe, but that there was no action taken.

The affected persons had complained to Ananthan that the hospitals in the North were lacking facilities to treat their conditions.

“This situation remains the same. Some children who can obtain financial support have removed the shrapnel from their bodies with the help of Indian doctors, while most are still bearing the shards,” he added.

Ananthan noted that there are children with shrapnel in their heads and spinal areas. To some of them, the doctors have advised that removing such could be a threat to their lives, and therefore, they continue to live with the condition.

“I appeal to President Wickremesinghe to provide assistance to these children. Not everyone is financially stable enough to get the shrapnel removed; thus the Government should help them to survive,” he added.

He also noted that he would reach out to President Wickremesinghe through former Northern Province Chief Minister and incumbent Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) MP C.V. Wigneswaran to highlight this matter.

Meanwhile, Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thiyagarajah, speaking to The Morning, said that the presence of shrapnel does not always translate to the need for removal.

“It is subject to medical advice on the necessity. However, the principal cost must not be a reason not to attend to any removal, particularly for those less resourced. We will revisit this subject and inquire from every healthcare facility on the needs of those they attended to previously,” he added.