(Pic by Ravindra Dharmathilaka)

The woes and plight of as many as 89,000 war widows who also support their own families continue to be neglected and unaddressed, the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement announced at a press briefing at the Centre for Society and Religion this past week.

The briefing was chaired by several women who had traveled from the North and East to speak up about the issues that continue to cripple their livelihood.

“Our plight continues to be blatantly ignored by the previous government and the current,” said Chithra who had traveled from Jaffna. “There are as many as 89,000 war widows but the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission alleges that there are only 59,000.”

She alleged that the statistics are disputed because this marginalized section of the society specifically in the North and East continue to be ignored. “Most of us survive on a single meal, we’re unable to feed our own children. We’re returned to barren lands and are now expected to generate our own source of income with no support,” she lamented.

“We have been returned to our lands, but we’ve not been resettled,” said Vadielamma from Batticloa. “We don’t have the basic sanitary facilities nor do we have a proper source for drinking water. We’ve been sent back to our lands but at our own risk.”

The organization which supports these women are calling on the UN which proposed the Peace Building Fund to ensure that there is a comprehensive representative participation of the IDP community. They ask of the government to provide the basic services until the lands are fully restored to them.

The movement, which is a membership based organization that supports various programs to support women headed families in the North and East cited that there is an obvious void in the planning framework, since the post-war return and resettlement of these internally displaced people and specially the war widows has not been adequately addressed.