ASIA/SRI LANKA - The struggle for survival of 40 000 female-headed households in the former war zone

Friday, 11 July 2014

Valipunam (Agenzia Fides) - The village of Valipunam, 322 kilometers north of the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, is located in one of the remotest corners of the former war zone in the country. The dirt roads are impossible to cross, there are no lights, telephone connections come and go and the nearest police station to the center of the Mullaitivu area destroyed by the conflict, is miles away. Here even the strongest men are afraid to live alone in their homes. The situation is even worse for households headed by single mothers. In the northern province of the Country, devastated by war, between 40 000 and 55 000 female heads of households are struggling to survive, according to humanitarian agencies in the region.
In June 2013 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), found that 40% of all women, including 467 000 returnees who were displaced during the last stages of the war, are still afraid to live in their homes, while 25% are afraid to venture out of their villages on their own. According to data of Durable Solutions Promotion Group, a coalition of organizations and international agencies of volunteers, the children of the 40 000 female-headed households are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Despite these impressive figures, according to aid workers in the region, women who manage their families are among the most resistant in the former conflict area. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 11/07/2014)