Direct Relief Airlifts Medical Aid for Sri Lankans Affected by Prolonged Civil War


Humanitarian Crisis

Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long civil war ended in May 2009, leaving behind a humanitarian need for medical aid. Direct Relief has airlifted two aid consignments to Sri Narayani Hospital, a partner based in nearby Tamil Nadu, India, that has delivered the materials to camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in Sri Lanka.

Valued at almost $240,000 (wholesale), the delivery contained more than four and a half tons total of medical material aid, from analgesics and antibiotics to surgical supplies, sourced from Direct Relief’s standing inventory. FedEx donated in-kind airlift of the first provision of critically needed supplies; a second, larger provision followed.

On the day the end of the civil war was announced, Direct Relief’s Program Officer for Asia, Matt MacCalla, was visiting Sri Narayani Hospital in southern India. During MacCalla’s visit, administrators at the hospital expressed a desire to help IDP in Sri Lanka and asked if they could help facilitate a donation from Direct Relief to the IDP camps.

MacCalla and hospital representatives immediately negotiated the details and logistics of the donation to ensure that appropriate medical aid would reach the people most affected by the prolonged civil war. Hospital administrators contacted the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health and the Sri Lankan President’s office to facilitate the delivery of aid to IDP camps in the northeast.

Approximately 300,000 people have been displaced by the conflict in Sri Lanka, and more than 70,000 have been killed. After decades of fighting, resources have been depleted and infrastructure has been damaged. The prolonged violence has increased the need for humanitarian involvement while also causing many aid organizations to end operations in Sri Lanka due to staff security concerns. Along with medical aid from Direct Relief, Sri Narayani Hospital is providing food and clothes to residents of the IDP camps, many of whom are members of the Tamil minority and arrived at the camps with nothing.

Established in 2004 to provide quality healthcare to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it, Sri Narayani Hospital and Research Center treats 350 patients a day in such specialties as pediatric medicine, general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology. The 200-bed medical facility in Tamil Nadu also provides emergency care in a 24-hour trauma unit and conducts expansive outreach and community service projects, including emergency response.

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