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Development Aid: Religion

Question for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

UIN 180496, tabled on 13 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of proposed reductions in Official Development Assistance on support for marginalised religious or belief communities affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

Answered on

21 April 2021

We are continuing to assess the impact of Covid-19 on members of all minority religious and belief communities. At a country level, Ministers and officials regularly raise specific cases of concern, and discuss practices and laws that discriminate on the basis of religion or belief. At a multilateral level, we work within the UN, International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance ('Alliance') and other international organisations to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all where it is threatened.

The Minister of State responsible for human rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, virtually attended the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief in Warsaw in November 2020 and reaffirmed the UK's commitment to promoting FoRB, particularly during the pandemic. In August 2020, we issued a joint statement with the Alliance calling for states to ensure that any restrictions to the right to freedom of religion or belief are necessary, proportionate and time-limited to protect public health.

FCDO Ministers are currently working with officials to finalise ODA budget allocations for 2021/22. Final decisions have not yet been made, including on individual programmes.