RFI Middle East Director Speaks on Humanitarian Assistance and Religious Inequalities

December 17, 2019

On November 19, 2019, Jeremy Barker, Director of RFI’s Middle East Action Team, was a presenter for a seminar entitled, “Humanitarian assistance ‘doing no harm through need not creed’?,” which was hosted by the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), an initiative of the Institute of Development Studies.

The session focused on the challenges for humanitarian actors working in circumstances where people face discrimination and marginalization precisely because they belong to a specific religious group or hold a particular set of beliefs. As Barker discussed in his presentation, this mistreatment often persists prior to a humanitarian crisis and the crisis only exacerbates it. 

Religious inequality can often be found among individuals and communities who are pushed to the margins of society (socially, geographically, and politically), whether as a result of government restrictions, social hostilities, or some combination of them. The fault lines of many societies are observably religious, and the religious minorities populating the margins are rendered particularly vulnerable.

These realities make it even more imperative for humanitarian actors to recognize the inherent dignity of everyone they serve, seeing them as whole persons – including their religious identity, beliefs, and affiliations. Proceeding in this manner enables humanitarian actors to understand better the ways that religious inequalities might affect their intended beneficiaries and to ensure that their efforts account for these challenges.  

Speakers for the event included: 

  • Mariz Tadros (Chair), Director, CREID and Institute of Development Studies

  • Jeremy Allouche, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies

  • Jeremy Barker, Director, Middle East Action Team, Religious Freedom Institute

  • Nathaniel Hurd, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission

  • Olivia Wilkinson, Director of Research, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Communities

Watch the full event below: