UK tax payers donate £2.7 billion a year in aid to countries where Christian persecution is a daily reality. Analysis of foreign aid statistics shows that four out of five countries listed on a global human rights watch list, logging attacks or official suppression against Christians, receive money directly from the growing overseas development budget or other official agencies.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the latest figures showed some £3.6billion of British aid in 2013 went to countries where punishments as harsh as jail, hard labour and even execution are meted out for breaching religious laws. Of countries receiving aid, some 76, more than half, have been identified by campaign groups as operating official policies sanctioning Christian persecution.
The revelation comes soon after Prime Minister David Cameron insisted on increasing the annual foreign aid budget to 0.7 per cent of the UK’s income while cutting spending at home.
A comparison of the Christian persecution list against official aid figures by Telegraph shows that four out of five countries included also received British funding in 2013, the most recent full year for which figures are available.
Overall, countries on the Watch List received under £2.4 billion from the Department for International Development (DfID) with almost another £320 million from official agencies.
It includes several countries where militant groups rather than the official government are responsible for persecution of Christians. Breitbart News has previously reported on the fate of Christians around the world as an increasingly marginalised faith suffering at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
Somalia, which ranks second only to North Korea on the Christian persecution Watch list, received £107.3 million in aid from the UK while third-placed Iraq, where the Christian population has been in freefall, received £7 million.
Meanwhile Pakistan, in which blasphemy laws have been used against minority groups including Christians, received almost £34 million while just over £500,000 went to Turkmenistan where members of “unregistered” churches have complained of being subject to surveillance.
Tory MP Philip Davies told the Daily Express: “These figures are shocking. To think British taxpayers spent more than £3.6billion on supporting countries who imprison, beat and in some cases execute people because they are Christian or gay is appalling.
“When the Government gives out taxpayers’ money to other countries in aid or loans it should have very clear conditions. We should be using aid to support countries and communities, build infrastructure and encourage inward investment. It is time for a radical overhaul of how we allocate aid.”
Zoe Smith, head of advocacy at Open Doors UK and Ireland, which works to end Christian persecution, said: “We are actively lobbying our Government to identify the right to freedom of religion or belief as a priority.
“The right to freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a cornerstone of all human rights.”
Last month, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article for The Times ahead of a Lords Debate on religious freedom. He wrote that he visited Egypt to offer condolences following the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, who died proclaiming ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’. Of the 37 Anglican provinces he visited during his first 18 months in office, almost half were living under persecution.
Lord David Alton, who led the Lords debate told the House: “Some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution.
“Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom.”
Now we know that much of that Christian persecution is directly funded by British taxpayers. Given David Cameron’s insistence on sending more money abroad than ever before, it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.