On 18th July 2017, Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty’s Government “what their assessment of recent developments in the Northern and Central Belt States in Nigeria were”. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there needs to be work both at grass roots and at the highest level? Many of the signs we are seeing in Nigeria at the moment—particularly the threats against the Igbo, which are happily diminishing—bring back to mind the terrible events immediately prior to the outbreak of war in 1967? What work are the British Government doing with partners locally, through their exceptionally gifted high commission and DfID staff, to work with grass-roots organisations, including religious organisations, which are capable of reaching the local leaders at the most vulnerable level?
Baroness Goldie: I thank the most reverend Primate for his pertinent and important question. In relation to humanitarian aid, certainly the United Kingdom Government last year managed to donate £81.8 million, which provided food assistance, treatment for severe malnutrition to more than 39,000 children and access to clean water and sanitation to more than 135,000 people. This year, the Government will increase that support to £100 million, again to reach the most vulnerable people in north-east Nigeria. In addition to that, we are also providing £30 million of aid to help those affected by the crisis in Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The most reverend Primate raised an important question about religious belief. This Government are firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. In Nigeria, that right to freedom of religion is protected by the constitution. However, Boko Haram seeks to undermine this right by attacking Nigerians of all faiths and has caused immense suffering in both Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The United Kingdom Government do everything they can to support the Nigerian Government in adhering to the terms of their constitution and in implementing and respecting, in a practical sense, that essential freedom of religion and belief.