Christianity: Oppression

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 11th January 2021.

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Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to reports of attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria and increasing Islamic terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Congo, Kenya, Uganda and other countries in West and Central Africa, what support his Department has provided to multi-national responses to (a) resist extremism and (b) protect vulnerable minority Christian communities.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We condemn all criminal and terrorist attacks on civilians, whatever their religion or belief. Attacks have caused immense suffering to local communities. The UK supports multi-national responses to tackle the threats from different terrorist groups in North East Nigeria, the Lake Chad Basin and East Africa. For example, we support Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in North East Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad Basin by helping fund the Lake Chad Basin Regional Stabilisation Facility to strengthen community security, provide basic services and support livelihoods. We have provided funding and operational support for the Multinational Joint Task Force, a regional force coordinating military efforts for regional security. In the Sahel, we are providing logistical support to the French-led counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane. We are increasing focus on the protection of civilians through our deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and as one of the largest humanitarian donors. Additionally, the UK supports regional security and efforts to counter the threat posed by Al-Shabaab in East Africa, including through UK military training to forces from troop contributing countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army. We are delivering a three year programme to strengthen regional, national and community level efforts to prevent radicalisation and recruitment across East Africa, including Kenya and Uganda. Across the continent, the UK continues to be a committed contributor to and supporter of UN peacekeeping operations.

The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all (FoRB) globally, and promoting respect between communities. Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with governments, including at Ministerial level. Defending FoRB was a core pledge in our successful campaign to be re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, and we will continue to use our position to stand up for individuals who are persecuted for their faith, belief, or because they have no religious belief. We work within the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe and other multilateral fora to promote and protect FoRB for all where it is threatened. In November 2020, the Minister responsible for human rights, Lord Ahmad (Tariq) of Wimbledon, underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB, speaking at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Ministers' Forum of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance.

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