On 11th and 13th February 2020 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received written answers to five questions, on Israel & Palestine.
On 6th February 2020 the House of Commons debated a Government motion “That this House has considered the matter of the persecution of Christians.”. The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, spoke in the debate. The full text of the debate can be seen on the Hansard website.
Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): It is a pleasure, albeit a sad necessity for many of us, to speak on a debate on this issue yet again in this House. The analysis I have seen from Open Doors and others shows that in the past three years alone more than 10,000 Christians have been killed for their faith—that is a staggering number. We are right to hold this debate today, because, as others have mentioned, the evidence shows that Christians are the target of about 80% of all the acts of religious discrimination or persecution around the world.
On 6th February 2020 Lord Suri asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure the protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief in their international development plans.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, following the previous supplementary question*, I understand that in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, there is a champion for promoting freedom of religious belief at director-general level. In the light of the report just mentioned, commissioned by the previous Foreign Secretary, will the Minister consider appointing a similar champion to influence policy formation at the most senior level in her department?
On 4th, 5th and 6th February 202o the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received written answers, to questions on freedom of religion and belief.
On 4th February 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on food security and scarcity in areas affected by locusts in East Africa:
East Africa: Locusts
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) food security, and (2) food scarcity, in areas affected by locusts in East Africa.
The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Sugg) (Con): My Lords, we are deeply concerned about the devastating locust outbreak in east Africa. It is destroying crops, livelihoods and essential food supplies. Millions of people already face food insecurity and acute malnutrition caused by humanitarian disasters in the region, and more are displaced by conflict. An outbreak exacerbates these challenges. Anticipatory action is needed to reduce the risks to the upcoming agricultural seasons; UK aid is supporting the UN in controlling the outbreak. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to help further.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. It is perhaps appropriate that a Member on these Benches is raising issues about plagues of locusts, but a humanitarian crisis is unravelling in front of us. In some parts of Ethiopia, 90% of the crops have already gone and 20 million people face no food. Last Thursday, the UN said that we need $76 million now to begin to address the problems. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure immediate food aid if it is required and, in the longer term, that there is seed for next year’s crops so that people have security?
On 29th January 2020 the Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty’s Government “what priority they give to Sudan and South Sudan among their foreign policy objectives.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a follow up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the meeting in the Vatican last April of religious and political leaders from South Sudan, including the President and leading rebel and opposition groups; and of the Pope’s announcement when we met last November that he intended to make a joint visit himself, with me and a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, at the end of March if the transitional Government had been established by that time in Juba. The period for establishing that Government runs out towards the end of February. May we have assurance that with the whole thing in the balance—and given what we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Cox—Her Majesty’s Government will apply carrot and stick vigorously, and give full attention over the next four weeks to enabling this new Government to happen solidly in Juba, including the presence of leading rebel members such as Riek Machar, to get a framework for peace? Continue reading “Archbishop asks Government about help to build peace in South Sudan”