UK must help 300m persecuted Christians – UK Foreign Secretary

REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo

Faced by the ever-increasing persecution of Christians around the world the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the UK “must do more” to help. The numbers are staggering: According to the Catholic Organisation Aid to the Church in Need close to 300 million Christians are persecuted. The anti-persecution charity Open Doors gives a slightly reduced figure, 215 million Christians faced persecution last year. Three thousand Christians were murdered last year because of their faith.

Foreign Secretary Hunt has tasked Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen  to lead an independent review to assess if the British Government is doing enough and what practical steps can be taken to increase support for persecuted Christians.

The review is due for publication at Easter. It is expected that the review will map the persecution of Christians in “key countries” in the Middle East, Africa and Asia; provide an analysis of current UK government support and offer recommendations for a “cohesive and comprehensive policy response”.

The UK Foreign Office said that it expects the review to propose ambitious policy recommendations.

Situation has worsened – ACN

According to the “Religious Freedom Report” 2018 published by Aid to the Church in Need released on Nov. 22, Christians are the religious group most susceptible persecution. The report which covers the period between June 2016 and June 2018 shows grave violations of religious freedom in a total of 38 countries.

Some 61% of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedom is not respected; in other words, 6 out of every 10 people around the world cannot express their faith with total freedom.   Among them are almost 300 million Christians, or 1 out of 7, who live in a country of persecution, subject to violence, arrest, and human rights violations.

The situation has only deteriorated over the past two years. Among the worst offenders there are China, India, North Korea, Myanmar, Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan.