The UK has always championed freedom of religion or belief for everyone. As a country that has always been a beacon for freedom and tolerance, I passionately believe the UK should not shirk its responsibilities.
That is why I am glad the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians, conducted by the Anglican Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, has been published. The UK Government is committed to implementing the recommendations from the Bishop of Truro's Review.
The recommendations have been divided into short, medium and longer term priorities and Ministers have already implemented a good number of them. This includes recently appointing a Director General level champion for Freedom of Religion or Belief and marking Red Wednesday in support of persecuted Christians and members of other minority groups. Some of the recommendations will take longer to implement and many will require an ongoing effort to embed into the working practice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Departments.
I understand there are concerns about the increased vulnerability of Christians during the coronavirus outbreak. It is of course vital that we do all we can to ensure aid gets through to those that need it most. I know that the UK Government works to ensure that all aid reaches the most vulnerable including those from religious minorities. Covid-19 is likely to reinforce their marginalised position in society, their experience of discrimination, violence and stigma, and further limit their access to essential support and services. I welcome that, for this reason, guidance was circulated across DFID highlighting that inclusion must be central to the UK's response and the specific contexts and needs of all religious minorities should be taken into account when developing practical programmes to tackle Covid-19.