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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

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  • REMARKS, SPEECHES & STATEMENTS

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    Washington, D.C., 26 July 2018

     

     

     

    Ministers,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    Let me begin by thanking the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for convening this Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. It is a very timely meeting. Today terrorism and violent extremism pose a security threat to religious communities. In many parts of the world religious or ethnic minorities are at risk of being persecuted or even killed on the grounds of their religion or beliefs.

     

    Important voices come from church leaders and faith-based organizations. Poland welcomes the fact that the Department of State extended an invitation to civil society, non-governmental organizations and religious leaders to attend our meeting. Their testimonies and first-hand information help us understand and properly address the issue of discrimination against religious groups.

     

    In 2012, approximately 62 million people worldwide were in need of humanitarian help. In 2017, this number reached an unprecedented level of 164 million people, a quarter of which were in the areas of the armed conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

     

    In December last year, I met in Warsaw with Farida Abbas - a member of the persecuted Yazidi minority. Together with Nadia Murat they were granted the Pro Dignitate Humana award for their involvement in defence of religious minorities. From their perspective, the main needs are to provide urgent humanitarian and educational support for people of Sinjar [Iraq], to rebuild the destroyed areas, to support the collection of evidences of ISIS crimes in Iraq and ultimately bring perpetrators to justice.

     

    Let me say here that Poland supports the idea to establish August 3rd as a recognised day of remembrance of survivors of religious persecution, as it is proposed in the Potomac Plan of Action.

     

     

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    On multilateral fora, the priority is to keep the freedom of religion and belief on top of the agenda of the international organizations. For example, on the margin of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Poland organized a side-event on the situation of religious minorities in armed conflicts, with the particular focus on the Middle East. Poland is also one of the initiators of the resolution on cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage, which refers to the protection and prevention from destruction of places of worship in conflict and non-conflict situations.

     

    Moreover, during our next rotating presidency at the UN Security Council we will plan to organize an Arria-formula meeting on religious freedom and its challenges nowadays.

     

    As other countries, Poland provides humanitarian assistance to the members of persecuted minorities. Polish aid is provided bilaterally via Polish NGOs and diplomatic posts; and multilaterally through payments to the specialised humanitarian agendas. We contribute to the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (so-called MADAD) or the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

     

    The Polish humanitarian aid steadily increases. In 2017 it amounted to 45 million USD – which is six times more than the aid provided in 2015. Polish humanitarian projects include support for religious minorities, especially Christians and Yazidis.

     

    Poland and Hungary signed the Joint Declaration of Intent regarding strengthening of the cooperation with respect to the provision of humanitarian aid in the Middle East and Africa. We are currently working on the project of the building of an orphanage for 118 children in Zeidal Village in Homs province.

     

    Missionaries and religious organizations are trusted partners of the Polish MFA. Thanks to their extensive knowledge and daily contacts with local communities, missionaries are able to provide effective support to those most in need.

     

    Most of the projects implemented in cooperation with religious organizations are related to the improvement of medical conditions and education for poor communities.

     

    Important role in providing aid plays Polish society. The initiative run by Caritas Polska called “Family for Family” provides direct financial assistance to over 6000 of Syrian families in Aleppo. Polish families symbolically adopt Syrian families and provide them with regular financial assistance. So far about 8 million USD were donated.

     

    I think our aim should be – wherever it is possible – to support Christians and other religious groups to stay where they live. And not to encourage them to emigrate.

     

    Let me conclude by stressing my country’s continuous commitment to advance religious freedom and to combat discrimination of religious minorities. Poland is willing to contribute to international efforts in this regard.

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