Bishop of Coventry asks Government about children in Iraq, terrorism in Sri Lanka and religious freedom in Pakistan

On the 23 May 2019 the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received three written answers from Government to questions he had asked on (i) children in Iraq, (ii) terrorism in Sri Lanka and (iii) religious freedom in Pakistan.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that some 45,000 children in Iraqi displacement camps are without civil ID documentation; and what representations they intend to make to the government of Iraq to ensure that those children are not excluded from Iraqi citizenship and society in the future. HL15663

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We are aware of the media reports regarding children without documentation in Iraqi displacement camps, although we cannot verify the numbers cited. We recognise the vulnerability of these children and the risks of them being excluded from Iraqi citizenship and society in the future. We continue to raise these concerns with the Iraqi authorities including the importance of formal recognition of all children. We were pleased to hear of the Government of Iraq’s initiative to address the status of children born of rape to Yezidi women and hope this will soon be reflected across the country.

Via Parliament.UK

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what humanitarian assistance they have sent, or intend to send, to the communities affected by the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. HL15661
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: ​Sri Lanka has not requested humanitarian assistance. Following the Easter Sunday attacks, the Sri Lankan Government announced it would provide compensation for victims and fund the repair of the affected churches. The Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, visited Sri Lanka on 2-3 May to demonstrate solidarity and discuss what UK support would be most helpful. Existing UK support in Sri Lanka includes £8.3 million of Conflict Stability and Security Fund funding over three years (2016-2019) to support police reform and training, reconciliation and peacebuilding, resettlement, interfaith dialogue and demining in the north of the country. We are also engaging with the Sri Lankan Government, faith and community leaders to encourage the Government to take all appropriate measures to reassure all of Sri Lanka’s citizens that it will protect and uphold their safety and rights, and that its response to the attacks is proportionate and builds trust across all communities in Sri Lanka.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Pakistan to continue to uphold  the right to freedom of religion or belief in that country. HL15662
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: ​The UK has a long history of supporting Freedom of Religion or Belief for all people. We stand up for everyone’s right to practise or not practise a religion that is in line with their conscience, wherever they are in the world.

We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. I raised the treatment of religious minority communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February, and in subsequent telephone calls.

Under the Government’s Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the UK has supported projects in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance and religious freedom. In November 2018, the Government announced a new £12 million fund to bolster the work of civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations to promote respect, and the value of religious diversity and tolerance.

On 30 January 2019, the Foreign Secretary and the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, launched an Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians overseas. The Bishop submitted his interim report on 3 May; he will submit his final report in the summer.

Via Parliament.UK

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