Increased support for religious minorities

'Religious minorities are particularly vulnerable in situations of war and conflict, and are overrepresented among those living in extreme poverty. In the revised budget, the Government has proposed an additional allocation of NOK 10 million to efforts to protect religious minorities and safeguard their rights,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The additional allocation will help to mobilise international efforts to safeguard the rights of religious minorities.

'In many countries, religious minorities are persecuted or even killed, as we have seen in the case of Iraqi Yazidis and Copts in Egypt. It is vital to help develop early warning systems that can prevent organised attacks, and to support measures that can reduce human suffering,' Mr Brende said.

'If the situation for religious minorities is to improve, it is crucial that countries respect freedom of religion and belief. Unfortunately, in many regions the situation is deteriorating and the Government will therefore intensify its efforts in this area and seek to get other countries on board,' Mr Brende said.

As we work to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is important to focus attention on the most vulnerable groups. The rights of minorities, not least religious minorities, are of key importance to realising the ambitions set out in the SDGs.

'The Government will step up its work to promote the rights of religious minorities in the context of its aid policy with a view to making progress towards reaching the SDGs. This is one of the conclusions of the recent white paper on development policy and the SDGs,' said Mr Brende.