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US honours displaced Sri Lankan Muslim woman

2 March 10 19:03 GMT

A Sri Lankan Muslim woman who has been internally displaced in the north of the country for 20 years has won a top award from the US state department.

Majeed Jensila is one of 10 worldwide recipients of the state department's International Women of Courage award for 2010.

She heads a group called the Community Trust Fund, engaged in "activities for the betterment of minority women".

The state department said her focus was on uniting Muslims and Tamils.

The US Embassy in Colombo said that Ms Jensila had worked with young people on minority women's issues including women's rights, peace building, relief work and mine risk education.

Ms Jensila, from Mullaitthivu in Sri Lanka's northern province, told the BBC Tamil service that she had been displaced when Tamil Tiger rebels evicted the entire Muslim community from the area in 1990.

She and others sought refuge in Puttalam, a small fishing town on the north-western coast, where she lives now with her husband and three children.

She started the Community Trust Fund with five people in 1992.

"At the start the task was very difficult," she said.

But she was able to overcome the obstacles with support from her husband and family.

The annual International Women of Courage award was started in March 2007 to recognise women around the globe who have shown courage and leadership in advocating women's rights.

Two women from Afghanistan also won awards this year.

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