Sri Lanka seeks help for 90,000 war widows: minister

September 29, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is seeking foreign help to care for nearly 90,000 women who have been widowed due to the island’s Tamil separatist war which ended last year, a minister said Wednesday. Child Development and Women’s Affairs Minister M. L. A. M. Hizbullah told reporters some 12,000 war widows were below the age of 40. Around 8,000 widows have three or more children to care for.

“We need help to look after the war widows and we are seeking help from abroad for this,” the minister said.

He said the government had already asked neighbouring India to provide vocational training for the widows.

He said his ministry had a list of 49,000 widows in the island’s embattled eastern province and another 40,000 in the the northern province where final battles between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels were fought last year.

The minister’s latest figures suggested that the number of people killed in Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist conflict from 1972 to 2009 could be higher than the 100,000 estimated by the United Nations.

The military has estimated it killed more than 25,000 Tiger rebels in the final months of fighting while official estimates show 20,000 to 25,000 troops, police and