International Development Committee inquiry: secondary impacts of coronavirus in developing countries
Evidence submission from CREID
The Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) is an international consortium led by the Institute of Development Studies, funded by UK aid. CREID pivoted its work after the pandemic outbreak to focus on highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on religious minorities, where we saw pre-existing inequalities being exacerbated and where new issues were emerging, for example minorities being blamed for the spread of Covid-19. CREID also provided direct support to vulnerable communities, for example, in Pakistan, CREID partners delivered awareness training on using PPE, as well as delivering PPE itself to poor sanitation workers, who are predominantly from Christian backgrounds.
- Non-coronavirus health care; the communities trust and engagement in healthcare provision (especially in relation to other infectious diseases and immunisation)
From February – September 2020 CREID has been documenting the experiences of religious marginality intersecting with other inequalities, as recorded by members of the communities, activists, researchers and development practitioners. Including through blogs and a podcast series.
Recently CREID has found that religious minorities groups have faced negative impacts by the secondary impacts of Covid-19. For example:
- Pakistan is among countries where religious/ethnic minorities have been blamed for the spread of the virus. From calling it ‘Shia virus’ to ostracizing members of Christian and Hindu communities on the basis of their religious identity, religious minorities, who were already persecuted, experienced further marginalisation
- In Pakistan, the blame for the spread of Covid-19 targeted at Hazara Shias through misinformation campaigns built on pre-existing prejudices against this minority and a poorly managed public health response, which meant they found themselves firstly experiencing appalling quarantine conditions. Volunteers from within the community stepped up to help those caught up in these centres.
- In Iraq, already vulnerable religious minorities, such as the Yazidis (against whom Daesh/ISIS had waged a genocidal campaign), saw Covid-19 add additional strain to a crippled health infrastructure while those still living in displacement camps (nearly 800,000 in Iraqi Kurdistan) experienced poor healthcare and increased mental health problems relating to lockdown measures.
- Economy and food security; economic performance, development and level of ODA (implications for livelihoods and food security and nutrition)
CREID has found that Covid-19 and the measures put in place to contain it have had a significant and long-lasting impact on livelihoods and food security of religious minorities where they already experience socio-economic exclusion on the basis of class and caste. These include but are not restricted to daily wage labourers, farmers and small business owners.
- In Pakistan, Christian and Hindu sanitation workers working in quarantine centres, morgues and hospitals were laid off, or experienced delayed payment of their wages (which meant their families went hungry and could not access medicines when sick). They were given no time off, and no protective equipment for despite their high levels of exposure to Covid-19.
- In Karachi, Pakistan, Hindu vendors were arrested by local police for trying to keep their food stalls functional as there was no financial compensation from the government for small businesses, some of which provide the only source of income for their families.
- Low-wage Christian workers, including hairdressers and beauty salons, found themselves borrowing money from relatives to survive.
- In India, Christians cannot access constitutional state benefits, and those who worked in sanitation were forced to work without PPE
- In Iraq, business closed (including a century-old pottery run by a member of the Kakai religious minority), farmers faced bankruptcy (caught between increasing attacks from Daesh and Covid-19 restriction measures) and factory closures left families relying on their neighbours for food.
- Treatment of women and children; levels domestic abuse, gender-based violence and exploitation of women and children, including child marriage
CREID partners have shared figures with us which describe a significant jump in domestic violence and rape, from Iraq to Myanmar to Nigeria - across the board. Lockdown measures, lack of income and lack of access to services such as refuges and hotlines compounded a pre-existing problem where many women have few rights and little recourse to justice.
This submission draws on evidence from CREID and its partners, led by Dr Mariz Tadros, Director of the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID) and Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies.
For further information relating to this evidence submission or requests for oral evidence please contact: Sophie Robinson, External Affairs Officer, email@example.com or +44 (0)1273 915763.
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