Persecution of Christians in Nigeria

The plight of Christians in Nigeria is particularly concerning and I have mentioned the points you raise to senior colleagues in the Foreign Office (FCO). I welcome Britain's commitment to promoting and protecting the fundamental right to freedom of religion around the world, including raising concerns about Christians at the UN. In January, the FCO announced £10.6 million funding for 2016/17 projects focused on promoting human rights, including religious freedom.

Boko Haram's attacks are often indiscriminate and it commits appalling atrocities against all those, including Christians, who do not follow their extremist views. Recent military successes in the north east of Nigeria have driven Boko Haram from key towns, but they remain a serious threat. The Government is actively engaged in discussion with the Nigerian Government about how we can help it in the struggle against this terrorism. In February, the FCO raised the issue with the Nigerian Foreign Minister at the African Union summit, and a Minister also travelled to Nigeria to reiterate the UK's support.

The UK is also providing intelligence, military and development support to Nigeria. Almost 1,000 Nigerian military personnel have benefited from UK training to prepare them for counter-insurgency operations and up to 300 UK military personnel are expected to provide training to the Nigerian Armed Forces this year. The UK provided £5m to support a regional taskforce against the group and is providing £6.7m humanitarian assistance to support those affected by the Boko Haram conflict.

I welcome the Government's commitment to continuing to progress throughout the world in the important area of religious freedom.