The federal government roundtable hears a name to work with religion leaders within the battle towards the corona virus

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Faith groups have played a key role in Christian Aid's Ebola response in Sierra Leone, including by distributing food to quarantined homes in the capital, Freetown.(Photo: Christian Aid / A D & # 39; Unienville)

Human rights minister Lord Ahmad has held a virtual round table with faith leaders to discuss the global impact of the corona virus on religious communities.

Leaders from the faith-based development agencies CAFOD, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief UK, Tearfund and World Vision all attended the round table and discussed the important role religious communities had to play in combating the pandemic.

While the UK government has pledged £ 766 million to respond globally to coronaviruses in recent months, faith leaders have urged the government not to neglect faith groups in their broader response to the pandemic.

"We know from our many years of experience working with some of the poorest communities in the world that trustworthy leaders are critical to raising awareness and questioning misinformation among the most vulnerable during this pandemic," said a joint statement.

"Maximizing the reach and effectiveness of our faith-based support networks around the world will be crucial to effectively combat the spread of the coronavirus.

"Faith leaders are rooted in their communities and understand their challenges and needs. We hope that the government will understand this and will work more closely and meaningfully with faith institutions that are part of the front line in combating this pandemic.

"As faith organizations, we call on the international community to lead a new vision after this crisis – where inequalities are reduced, where basic services and rights are guaranteed for everyone and the planet is respected."

The roundtable heard that faith-based organizations around the world play a critical role in reducing poverty, providing humanitarian aid, and providing accurate information about coronaviruses to their local communities.

Lord Ahmad said the British government is determined to work with faith communities to address the pandemic challenges both in the UK and internationally.

At the round table, he said: "As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have unprecedented impacts on communities around the world, we know more than ever that we can only fight it if we do it together."

"So I am very grateful to our faith leaders and nonprofits who do so much to fight the devastating spread of the virus by helping and advising the most vulnerable."

Rehman Chishti, the Prime Minister's Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief, said: "In some countries around the world, minority beliefs and denominations are more susceptible to the secondary effects of the corona virus than those of the majority religion.

"As Special Representative of the Prime Minister for Freedom of Religion or Belief, I am determined to promote respect and understanding between different religious groups and to call cases where the right to freedom of religion or belief is abused.

"I stand with faith leaders and faith-based organizations when we work together to help communities in need. The sufferers deserve nothing less than our support."

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