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Islam: Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 55794, tabled on 1 December 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support the Government is providing to (a) Iraq, (b) Afghanistan and (c) Nigeria to ensure the protection of minority Shi'a Muslims in those countries.

Answered on

9 December 2016

The only way of safeguarding minority communities in Iraq is by defeating Daesh and establishing a lasting peace. The UK Government is committed to this. We have a comprehensive strategy for defeating Daesh and continue to support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to build a more inclusive society. Since June 2014, the UK has committed £169.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Iraq. This includes access to clean water, food, medicines and other life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable. All UK funded aid is distributed on the basis of need, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity to ensure that civilians are not discriminated against. We prioritise reaching the most vulnerable people across Iraq, including Shia Muslims and others who have suffered from such violence.

It is important that all Nigerians enjoy the right to freedom of religious belief and assembly, and that the security forces act within the law. UK military training and assistance to the Armed Forces of Nigeria has consistently emphasised the importance of adherence to internationally recognised Rules of Engagement, as well as the importance of International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. We continue to work with the Nigerian Government, NGOs and civil society to improve the security situation and human rights for all the people of Nigeria.

The UK is working closely with the Afghan Government as it seeks to overcome the legacy of conflict and become a more prosperous and stable state for all Afghans without discrimination. We currently have 450 military personnel in Afghanistan serving in a non-combat role, advising and assisting the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) as part of the NATO Resolute Mission. In addition to military support, we recently pledged £750m in development aid at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan for the period 2017-2020, this is expected to deliver improved health systems, boost education opportunities and assist with steps to tackle corruption.