How much aid does the UK government give to countries where Christians are persecuted?

Last week Open Doors published their annual World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christian persecution is most severe.  Having done some rummaging at the Department for International Aid’s website, I can reveal just how much our government gave in aid to these countries on the list.  The number in brackets is the amount of aid in millions.

Here are the Top 50 worst persecutors of Christians:

1. North Korea (0)
2. Afghanistan (97)
3. Saudi Arabia (0)
4. Somalia (4)
5. Iran (0)
6. Maldives (0)
7. Uzbekistan (0)
8. Yemen (51)
9. Iraq (10)
10. Pakistan (202)
11. Eritrea (4)
12. Laos (<1)
13. Northern Nigeria (141 – whole of Nigeria)
14. Mauritania (<1)
15. Egypt (0)
16. Sudan (128)
17. Bhutan (0)
18. Turkmenistan (0)
19. Vietnam (55)
20. Chechnya (0)
21. China (22)
22. Qatar (0)
23. Algeria (0)
24. Comoros (0)
25. Azerbaijan (0)
26. Libya (<1)
27. Oman (0)
28. Brunei (0)
29. Morocco (0)
30. Kuwait (0)
31. Turkey (0)
32. India (278)
33. Burma (Myanmar) (31)
34. Tajikistan (9)
35. Tunisia (0)
36. Syria (0)
37. United Arab Emirates (0)
38. Ethiopia (250)
39. Djibouti (0)
40. Jordan (<1)
41. Cuba (0)
42. Belarus (0)
43. Indonesia (10)
44. Palestinian Territories (46)
45. Kazakhstan (0)
46. Bahrain (0)
47. Colombia (0)
48. Kyrgyzstan (3)
49. Bangladesh (174)
50. Malaysia (0)

This all adds up to over £1.5 billion.  Our government has the potential to exert huge pressure on some of these countries over the persecution of Christians if it were to choose to do so.  Back in October last year, David Cameron threatened to withhold aid from countries that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.  He stated that those receiving UK aid should “adhere to proper human rights”.

Whilst it can only be a good thing when our government confronts persecution and abuse of human rights in other countries, quite why he should single out homosexuals above other groups including Christians is hard to fathom.  Religious persecution isn’t exactly under the radar at the moment.  The government needs to get its act together.

Here is the Open Doors video introducing this year’s World Watch List:

Thanks to Archbishop Cranmer for highlighting the list yesterday.

Categories: Government, Overseas aid, Persecution

Tags: , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Full disclosure…I am a gay Christian. I thought that Cameron was right to threaten to deny aid to countries who don’t decriminalise homosexuality. I also don’t have a problem with the UK giving aid to countries where Christians are persecuted.


    As a Christian, I really *expect* to be persecuted. Sometimes it will be in the form of the government giving me a hard time…sometimes it will be in the form of individual people or groups of people acting on their own (ie, without government involvement). I think that the Bible is clear that we *will* be persecuted for our faith. I consider it just a normal hazard of the job of serving Christ.

    My sexual orientation is something completely different though. I did not choose it…just like I didn’t choose to have blue eyes.

  2. Fundamentalist Christians view persecution as evidence that they are right, even if only a few people really agree with them. Its not a good barometer of anything.

  3. I agree that persecution should be opposed whether it relates to Tribe, sexual orientation,Race, Gender, Religion.or those who just disagree on whatever issue. Its lesser manifestations of exclusion and marginalisation are not very pleasant either. Holding a counter cultural or Christian worldview even if considered wrong by the majority should not be seen as an offence. You can disagree with somebody without persecuting or disadvantaging them. It would be interesting to see from which countries we withold aid and for what reasons. I hope the government can be persuaded to apply sactions to those countries where persecution takes place. They have not done so because of the cultural agenda at home because they fear it may cause interfaith division and highlight difference and also not to upset vested economic interests overseas. Christ may have told us that we would suffer individually for our witness but we should be salt and light ,speak out and lobby parliament against persecution wherever and to whomever it occurs

  4. Gillan,
    I can see where you’re coming from on this but I think you’re aiming at the wrong target. A few points: The organisation is called the Department for International Development for a very good reason. It does not just hand out cash to governments. It funds specific and carefully targetted projects specifically to help lift the poorest in society out of poverty: to help governments manage their resources and their infrastructure more effectively, for the common good; and to foster closer ties with goverments who we seek to influence. If you look at some of the specific projects they fund you’ll see how they go about this. For a while I followed DFID’s work quite closely, and I can assure you that they are very careful in how they allocate funding.
    Furthermore, a number of the countries where DFID has projects and where Christians are persecuted are precisely the places where we can and do seek to influence official policy. It’s a hard fact of life that funding buys you a place at the negotiating table. Actually, occasionally one of our Ministers does privately or publicly rebuke one of the countries which benefits from DFID support. The funding is a helpful carrot, and we can of course always withdraw funding if the point is not getting through, as can other countries who fund similar initiatives.
    What i am trying to make clear is that withdrawing funding from these countries for the reasons you give does not necessarily help those individuals in the country who need it most, be they Christian or otherwise.

    • Stillsimian, one of the great things about running this site is learning about new areas, so I greatly appreciate your comment. I have a lot of respect for the work of the DFID and would not want to criticize their work directly. I don’t believe that withdrawing funding would do much good and would probably end up cause more harm. I suspect that there is a good deal going on in the background regarding talks between our government and those of other countries.
      As with most things in politics, perception counts for a great deal and unfortunately our government has not given a lot away on its view of religious persecution abroad. This has caused a great deal of frustration in Christian circles. If they were to make a clear move by doing something along the lines of publishing an annual report on religious freedom, it would send out a signal that this is something of importance to them. When you read Andrew White’s books on the church in Iraq and how much it is suffering, it is very hard to sit there and not want to see something done about it.

      • “When you read Andrew White’s books on the church in Iraq and how much it is suffering, it is very hard to sit there and not want to see something done about it.”

        But is the Iraqi church suffering because of the Iraqi GOVERNMENT…or because of what non-government individuals/organisations are doing to it? Ultimately, a government can’t control the behaviour of every citizen or organisation based in it.

        • Rhea, you’re absolutely right, but some governments are more likely to turn a blind eye to what’s going on, or not give some minorities the full backing of the law. Governments can’t control the actions of their citizens, but they can still control what laws are written and how justice is delivered.

  5. It won’t let me reply directly to your comment…but my thinking is, should we not help out a country simply because it’s government isn’t perfect? *Especially* in countries where the individuals don’t have the right/ability to vote for their government? To me, we have to find some sort of middle ground (which certainly isn’t easy). I mean, can you imagine if Jesus would have only come to Earth if the earthly government where He was going to come was perfect? I think that we’d still be waiting for Him to make His first entrance on Earth 🙂

  6. I agree with your point. I don’t believe the government are ignoring the issue and I don’t believe we should only give aid to countries whose governments ours approves of. Take a look at this article from last March:
    If you want to see the opinions of a group for whom this whole issue is much closer to home, I’d have a look at the British Pakistani Christian Association
    They know what they’re talking about more than I do on this matter.

  7. Interesting links. One can only feel anger, sadness, for Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed and admire his immense courage for speaking against oppression and trying to effect change in Pakistan. legislation is usually the end products of internal or external pressures particularly in democracies. Fear over loss of power tends to concentrate the political mind. In undemocratic or unstable states economic considerations such as Inducements or sanctions, or how a state is perceived in the world can in the end  effect change. One thinks of Aparteid in south Africa where these were factors, though there was also wisespread internal dissent there. Speaking for Justice is something Jesus would want us to do.Matthew 5;6 God blesses those who thirst for justice. Making our government and the public aware and offering our support / prayers to those who suffer is a starting point and is all that we can do in practical terms.

  8. I came to this site because I have an interest in foreign aid, not because I wanted to be sneered at because I am gay.

    • I’m sorry if you feel that is the case. I’ve reread the post and taken out one sentence that wasn’t really necessary that you might be referring to and could be misinterpreted. I do not agree with any type of persecution whether it is as a result of religious belief or sexual orientation. I was just making the point that it seemed odd that David Cameron is threatening to withhold aid because of persecution against gay people without mentioning others groups too. I would be saying the same thing if he had mentioned persecution against Christians but ignored others.

  9. Its important that the government speaks out against persecution of ALL equality strains. Sexuality, Race, Gender Religion and political groups also.

  10. Watch Louis theroux’s documentary on law and disorder in Lagos. You all might find it interesting

    • It may be worth noting that Lagos is one of the major cities in Nigeria. Yet Britain still give’s 141 million in aid? Who’s really in control of that money?

      • Good question. Most of the African countries are so corrupt their people don’t even see any benefit from donations or aid.

  11. Why do we give aid to countries like India. This country can afford to fund a space programme.
    The Uk coalition government is talking about removing the winter payment to its own people but can afford to give it to foreign counties.
    I am totally sick of the people who run this country past and present. They all think more of others instead of their own.
    Get you act together or the next time there is an election you will not be getting my vote. Neither will Labour.


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