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Many religious and ethnic minorities have long been subject to discrimination and campaigns of persecution. It is currently uncertain the extent to which the pandemic has contributed to many of these existing campaigns of violence and discrimination or caused the displacement of peoples.

Both Parliamentarians and the UK Government have both expressed concern about the scale and severity of long-standing abuses of freedom of religion and belief. The Government has previously raised concerns with respective governments on this issue.[1]

During the crisis, some groups have been subject to hate speech and acts of violence linked to the pandemic. Data, primarily from the UK, USA and parts of South America also suggests that some ethnic minorities and indigenous communities have not only been more likely to contract Covid-19 during the pandemic but have faced higher rates of mortality once infected with the virus.

This paper briefly sets out the experiences and treatment of religious and ethnic minorities across the world over the past year. It should be emphasised, however, that the impact of the pandemic has primarily been to exacerbate existing inequalities and made the challenge of addressing the needs of some communities harder.

This paper also describes the status of refugees and migrants. While many migrants or refugees are not from religious or ethnic minorities and have left their origin countries for reasons other than persecution and discrimination, there is some overlap between these groups and the challenges they face.

[1]   PQ 120057 [Religious freedom: Coronavirus], 30 November 2020, HC Deb, 26 November 2020, c485

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