On 20th May 2020, Lord Collins of Highbury asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the response of international institutions to the impact of COVID-19 on refugee camps”. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked a follow-up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan published by the UN and updated this month, which emphasises “The importance of involving and supporting local organizations … given the key role they are playing in this crisis.” In all areas where the world’s 70 million displaced people gather, faith groups and especially churches are often the only remaining organisations with reach from grass roots to leaders, but they are often ignored by international and relief agencies. In many cases, shortage of money and logistics hamper food distribution. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that faith-based local groups are fully involved by all international agencies in all aspects of relief, reconciliation and moral and spiritual support?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: My Lords, what the most reverend Primate said resonates with me. I am a strong believer in the role of faith groups, particularly in the response to Covid. Specifically, we have, for example, allocated £55 million to established agencies such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as £20 million to international NGOs including Christian Aid. I share with noble Lords that I shall be convening a meeting of aid agencies working within the faith sector, to see what we can do in a more co-ordinated way across the world in our response to Covid-19, which will directly include faith leaders as well.