Overseas Development Aid: Covid-19 Vaccination

Debate between Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 21st January 2021

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury [V]
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My Lords, we must welcome warmly the exceptional moral leadership in this remarkable donation to the COVAX programme, which I think is the largest of any country. However, in order to make the money work, and to follow up what the British ambassador, Julian Braithwaite, said at the WHO, we need a global vaccination campaign if we are to overcome this global pandemic. There are three particular obstructions to overcome. One relates to the use of surplus supplies of vaccine; for example, Canada has ordered more than five times what it needs for its population. The second is misinformation, mythical dangers or false stories being deliberately spread about the vaccines. Thirdly, in many parts of the countries that will need the vaccine, there are immense logistical difficulties in distributing it. To make the most of the financial leadership we have set and given our expertise, experience and success in the rollout in this country, what will the Government do to validate that gift by overcoming these three challenges?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the most reverend Primate makes some very pertinent and important points. On the issue of countries which have oversubscribed, some countries have already announced plans for that. We are not in that position, but others have announced how they will look at distribution. We would implore them to consider that the most equitable way to support that distribution is through the COVAX Facility and the AMC, for the very reasons that have been put forward; namely, that they have the most effective infrastructure and networks to allow for equitable and fast distribution of the vaccine as it is rolled out.

I take fully the most reverend Primate’s point on misinformation. At a time when people are concerned and worried, it is highly regrettable that some in the world are putting out misinformation on vaccines which have already gone through all stages of testing and have been approved. We must come together to tackle that and provide proper information.

The most reverend Primate’s point on logistics was well made. As vaccine distribution continues, we will work through our networks within the FCDO and the UN to further strengthen NGOs; for example, with training and by ensuring that front-line healthcare workers in the field in developing parts of the world are vaccinated first.

Nigeria: Religious Violence

Debate between Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 21st September 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness that this is important. I pay tribute to her work in Nigeria, and to that of others in your Lordships’ House. We condemn incidents of violence where religion is erroneously used to justify the worst of crimes and acts of terrorism and extremism. On genocide, as the noble Baroness will know, it is the UK Government’s policy not to unilaterally determine whether genocide has occurred, in line with the genocide convention. As she will know and as I have often said, this is a matter for competent courts and tribunals.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury [V]
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My Lords, like the Minister, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising this issue; she is tireless and fearless in standing up for the weakest and most vulnerable. While the issues of genocide are often ones of legal terminology, the situation in Nigeria is one of large-scale killing in many areas across all communities and for a wide variety of reasons, not all of which are religious. Would the Minister say how the very large numbers of UK passport holders in Nigeria—most with dual citizenship and families here—are protected and informed of the situation? Would he also say what priority the establishment of reconciliation will get in the allocation of overseas aid in the new department?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, first, I fully align myself with the remarks of the most reverend Primate and pay tribute to him for his tireless efforts on conflict resolution, not just in Nigeria but around the world. As he knows from our discussions, I share many of the views that he has articulated. On his specific questions, we are developing a new conflict, security and justice programme, which aims to reduce levels of violence through the development of more effective conflict-management systems, working in conjunction with key partners on the ground. On the issue of British nationals, apart from the focus on conflict management, we continue to update travel advice to inform British nationals intending to travel to Nigeria, providing, in particular, specific travel advice for different states within Nigeria.

Covid-19: Refugee Camps

Debate between Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 20th May 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, the noble Lord raises a very important point. We have been at the forefront—he will be aware of the £744 million of UK aid funding which we have committed thus far to global efforts to combat the outbreak of Covid-19, split across three areas: building resilience in vulnerable countries, finding a vaccine and supporting the economic response. We are working with a raft of UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and UNICEF, as well as UNFPA and UNHCR, to support refugees specifically.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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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 Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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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.

Sudan and South Sudan

Debate between Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 29th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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The noble Lord asks for specific details. If I may, I will write on the nature of that situation. On his more general point, we are concerned about the security of aid workers because of the number of NGOs working on the ground.

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Portrait The Archbishop of Canterbury
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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?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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Again, I pay tribute to the most reverend Primate for his work in South Sudan. I know this is an area close to his heart. Let me assure him that we are working closely not just with the Government but with civil society to ensure that we keep on track, and that the peace agreement between the two countries remains intact. We are supporting civil society organisations as well; for example, the UK is funding and enabling the South Sudan Council of Churches to engage in mediation. That is an important part of the reconciliation process in South Sudan, and for that matter in Sudan as well.