Bishop of Winchester asks Government about support for religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria

On 19th March 2015  Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is the strategy of the United States-led coalition for clearing the Daesh out of the territories which they currently occupy in Syria and Iraq.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Tim Dakin, asked a supplementary quesion:

Bishop of WinchesterThe Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, even if the current operations to clear Daesh prove successful, the ancient religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq have an uncertain future. Does the Minister agree with the statement recently submitted by the Holy See to the United Nations Human Rights Council? It said that a future without these communities in Iraq and the Middle East risks,

“new forms of violence, exclusion, and the absence of peace and development”.

Therefore, what steps are being taken to secure the future of those communities, and in particular, their human right to religious freedom?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I can respond first by saying that the motion before the Human Rights Council was presented by the Vatican jointly with Russia. We are a signatory to that and fully support it. The work that we are doing with regard to humanitarian aid and our work with the International Committee of the Red Cross is fully aimed at supporting all minorities. The Christian church is clearly an important part of that. I pay tribute to those who use the £800 million of aid we provide in Syria to provide support to keep communities safe in the future and to keep them able to stay there. But it is bleak at present.