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Middle East: Minority Groups

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 27th February 2017.

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Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure religious minorities in the Middle East have a sustainable future in the region.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Government supports the right to freedom of religion or belief for all communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by regularly urging governments, at senior levels to uphold the rights of all minorities; building international consensus on freedom of religion or belief; and supporting practical projects, For example, in Iraq we are supporting a project inspiring key leaders in society to become defenders of freedom of religion or belief.

We are also working to implement the results of the 2016 Syria Conference, which aims to create over one million jobs in the MENA region, including refugees from religious minorities. We use the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Programme Funds to support community cohesion, encourage reconciliation and promote tolerance between communities in Iraq. We regularly engage with faith leaders and faith-based Non- Governement Organisations (NGOs) in the UK and the MENA region to discuss the situation of religious communities. We will assist NGOs where we can to carry out their work.

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