The Centre is committed to working on a priority basis for the relief and rehabilitation of the internally displaced civilians in northern Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has informed Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

“Our humanitarian assistance has been substantial. The field hospital set up by us has now treated more than 38,000 patients. Our demining teams are in the process of clearing tracts in the North to expedite the resettlement process. We have also sent shelter material to facilitate resettlement,’ Dr Singh wrote to Mr Karuananidhi in his letter of September 9.

The Prime Minister’s communication was in response to Chief Minister’s letters of August 14 and 17 on Indian fishermen and the situation of Tamil internally-displaced persons in Sri Lanka.

Commending the State government for its contribution to the relief, he said it brought much-needed solace to the affected Tamil families. “The [Union] government is in the process of taking up several projects under Rs. 500 crore earmarked for this purpose in the Union Budget relating to restoring livelihood, rehabilitating infrastructure like railways, rejuvenating agriculture and imparting skills for livelihood and employment,” the Prime Minister said.

On the consignment from the Sri Lankan diaspora, Dr Singh said the Indian Red Cross had handed it over to the Sri Lankan Red Cross. “We expect the Sri Lankan government to facilitate the clearance of this consignment and undertake its distribution,” the Prime Minister said.

On the condition of fishermen in Bangladesh, Dr Singh said the Mission in Dhaka had ascertained that the three Indian fishermen were in the safe custody of the Bangaldesh police. “We have requested the government of Bangladesh for their early repatriation. The government of Bangladesh has also been requested to continue search and rescue operations in respect of the remaining five missing Indian fishermen and to keep us informed of developments,” he added.