To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what steps her Department has taken to develop practical programmes of assistance which take into account the specific contexts and needs of vulnerable (a) religious communities and (b) other groups.
The UK is firmly committed to the protection of ethnic and religious minorities. We work to ensure that the specific contexts and needs of vulnerable religious communities and other vulnerable groups are taken into account when practical programmes of assistance are developed.
DFID undertakes interdisciplinary analysis to ensure that religious groups are factored into all of our country programmes. The situation of minority communities is taken into account when assessing those most in need of protection and assistance. This includes when a community is being targeted or is otherwise vulnerable because of their faith. We actively consult civil society including faith-based organisations to understand how best to support vulnerable groups.
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 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 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. We will continue to work closely with partners to ensure that vulnerable religious communities and other vulnerable groups are being supported through our programming.