Aid to the Church in Need recently published a report that called for international intervention to help persecuted Christians, particularly in the Middle East.
In the 2019 edition of “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, the Christian charity disclosed that Christianity is disappearing from ancient towns where the faith first took root. The invasion of ISIS in Qaraqosh in northern Iraq in 2014 caused the displacement of religious minorities. Many Christians were killed, kidnapped and tortured during the Islamic militants’ reign.
Iraq, which had 1.5 million Christians in 2003, now has about 150,000 believers. Some estimated that it may have been as low as 120,000, by mid-2019. The report said, “if security can be guaranteed,” there may be a chance of preserving Christianity in Iraq.
Syria is another country where experts saw a steep decline in the Christian population. There was a two-thirds drop in the number of Christians from 2 million in 2011, before the civil war began.
In addition, the “Persecuted & Forgotten?” report identified other countries of concern—India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. The Easter Sunday bombing in churches in Sri Lanka this year killed 300 people and injured 500 more. In 2017, there were 477 anti-Christian incidents in India. Terror attacks continue to hound Christians and places of worship in some South and East Asian countries.
Despite the grim situation of Christians in different parts of the world, the report noted that “the international community has shown unprecedented concern about the persecution of the region’s Christians.”
The Catholic charity is not the only organization calling for international intervention to help Christian minorities.
Persecuted Christians at the #WeAreN2018 congress called on the United Nations to act on the discrimination and threats against believers.
Father Gabriele Firas shared his experience as a persecuted Christian after converting and becoming the first Iraqi priest of the Syrian-Catholic rite. He said young Christians in Iraq worry about their safety, asking “If I don’t go into exile, who can guarantee a future for me in Iraq?”
The cleric said, “We need a future far from extremism and violence in order to create a new society. We need to build bridges, not walls.”