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Overseas Aid: Religious Discrimination

Question for Department for International Development

UIN 68282, tabled on 2 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she taking to ensure that aid is targeted at the most vulnerable regardless of their faith; and what criteria her Department applies to ensure that religious minorities are not discriminated against.

Answered on

9 July 2020

The UK Government works to ensure that UK overseas aid is targeted at the most vulnerable and that religious minorities are not discriminated against. The UK is committed to delivering its aid according to internationally recognised humanitarian principles. These principles ensure that humanitarian assistance is delivered to those who are most vulnerable and most in need of this assistance irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. The UK is firmly committed to the protection of religious minorities, and regularly challenges our partners to demonstrate that they are doing all they can to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people, including those from religious minorities.

DFID undertakes interdisciplinary analysis of a country’s politics, society, state and economy to identify the most significant problems that hinder development and the main entry points and opportunities to create change. There is a strong emphasis on how politics, security, and demographics interact with economic growth and human development to ensure that aid is targeted at the most vulnerable.

Vulnerable religious minority groups will experience crises such as COVID-19 outbreaks differently. Crises are likely to reinforce their marginalised position in society, their experience of discrimination, violence and stigma, and further limit their access to essential support and services. For this reason, guidance was circulated across DFID highlighting that inclusion must be central to our response and that the specific contexts and needs of vulnerable religious communities and other vulnerable groups should be taken into account when developing practical programmes of assistance.

On 8 June, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for Human Rights, hosted a roundtable to hear from faith leaders and faith-based development organisations about the specific challenges minority faith communities were facing during this COVID-19 pandemic.