The UK Government has come under fire for handing over billions of pounds in taxpayers’ money to countries where Christians are suffering some of the worst persecution in the world.
The criticism came after an examination of overseas aid given to countries that appear on a ‘watch list’ of 50 places where suppression of Christianity is most severe.
The Daily Telegraph investigation revealed that four in five countries on the list, compiled by the charity Open Doors, received £2.7 billion in overseas aid in 2013 – the year for which the latest statistics are available.
The money came almost entirely from the Department for International Development (DFID).
The countries receiving aid included Somalia, which was given £107.3 million and is ranked second on the list, and Pakistan which was handed £34 million despite using blasphemy laws against Christians and other minority groups.
The spread of Islamic extremism accounts for 40 out of 50 entries on the watch list of countries.
Conservative MP Philip Davies urged the Government to rethink where it donates taxpayers’ money.
… why are we dolling out large amounts of cash to brutal regimes who show a complete disregard towards basic human rights?Philip Davies MP
“Many people will rightly be asking what is the purpose of aid money and why are we dolling out large amounts of cash to brutal regimes who show a complete disregard towards basic human rights?
“When the Government gives out taxpayers’ money to other countries in aid or loans, it should have very clear conditions, but it appears that there are none.”
He added: “It is time for a radical overhaul of how we allocate aid.”
The former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali also called on the Government to ensure that overseas aid is “directed properly to the right people in the right way”, and questioned why more is not being spent on protecting Christians in Iraq.
A DFID spokesman said that British aid is “tackling discrimination head on” and that the UK will “proudly continue to tackle” these injustices at home and abroad.
Scale of persecution
Last month, the Guardian newspaper highlighted the sheer scale of Christian persecution across the world, using data from Open Doors and personal stories to show that it is on the rise.
The newspaper cited figures from Open Doors, which “conservatively estimates that 4,344 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in 12 months up to November 2014, and 1,062 churches were attacked”.