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Overseas Aid: Religion

Question for Department for International Development

UIN 71771, tabled on 9 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps she has taken to ensure that (a) Christians and (b) other religious minorities undertaking the distribution of aid in developing countries do not face discrimination as a result of their faith.

Answered on

15 July 2020

The UK Government works to ensure that those responsible for the distribution of aid in developing countries, including Christian and other religious minorities, do not face discrimination as a result of their faith. DFID works closely with the FCO to call for rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid workers to those in need and vice versa. We also strongly advocate for compliance with International Humanitarian Law and with the Humanitarian Principles, both of which serve to protect aid workers and those they seek to assist.

International Humanitarian Law states that parties to a conflict must allow humanitarian relief for civilians in need, which is impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction. They must not withhold consent to relief operations arbitrarily. Parties to a conflict must not discriminate against aid agencies and/or their personnel delivering aid of this nature because of their faith. DFID conducts thorough due diligence assessments of its partners to ensure that they have the ability to work in fragile and conflict afflicted states and to implement appropriate safety and security protocols.

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