Migrant toddler has shrapnel stuck in head: lawyer
A toddler with a piece of shrapnel lodged in his head is just one of many battle-scarred migrants among the 492 Tamils who arrived in B.C. onboard the MV Sun Sea, according to a lawyer representing some of the asylum-seekers.
Malini Dyonisius told CTV News that she learned of the child's injury, sustained during the closing months of the country's civil war, from his mother.
"She has a concern that her son is having a piece of shell in his head," she said. "During the war, they were running from place to place. They were affected, injured."
The little boy's injury was examined by doctors in a camp inside Sri Lanka.
"The doctors have said that it's there, that he had to go through a surgery, which was not done," Dyonisius said, explaining that the family had to flee once again before the operation could be completed.
The child's injury is just one of many that Dyonisius says she's learned of during her consultations with the migrants.
So far, she's talked to 24 women. "There's another lady said that her husband was injured...there was a shell piece got into his body, closer to the kidney."
Another woman is missing a hand. "She has injuries all over her body. It is unbearable," Dyonisius said.
And one man is missing a large portion of his lower jaw. "It is not pleasant to describe."
Dyonisius said that she brought up the injuries during initial detention hearings for the migrants this week, and government lawyers have assured her that the new arrivals will receive medical treatment.
As of midday on Wednesday, initial detention reviews had been completed for 110 of the Sri Lankan migrants. All were ordered to remain in detention while officials work to establish their identities.
Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman David Poopalapillai said that his organization was "really worried" to hear of the injuries among the refugees.
"Most of these folks, they were in the war zone. They escaped the war zone. They have been carrying these war scars in their minds, in their bodies, all over their lives," he said.
But he added that the migrants are satisfied with the reception they've received in Canada so far.
"They are very happy about the treatment they are getting in the hands of our government."