Persecution of Christians reaches new high
Thornbury & Yate MP Luke Hall writes for the Voice
THE advocacy group Open Doors recently launched their 2022 ‘World Watch List Report’, which has examined the persecution of Christians globally, setting out their recommendations to Government for what the UK can do to help.Tackling Christian persecution is something of great personal importance to me, as regular readers of the Voice will know.
Reading the Open Doors report, I have been horrified to learn that persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels in the 30 years that they have been carrying out research.
Across 76 countries, the number of Christians experiencing high levels of persecution and discrimination, simply because of their faith, is as high as 360 million – one in every seven Christians in the world.
The number of Christians killed for their religion has increased from 4,761 in 2021, to 5,898 in 2022.
In particular the report notes the return to power of the Taliban, along with the rise in prominence of extremist groups in Africa and Asia, as key factors in a number of countries. The 2022 World Watchlist raises a number of countries of particular concern, including: Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and Nigeria.
In North Korea, severe limitations on any religious freedoms are in place, with Open Doors reporting that "if Christians are discovered, they and their families are deported to labour camps as political criminals or killed on the spot". In Libya, "various radical Islamist groups and organised criminal groups target Christians to exploit, kidnap, rape, enslave and kill, with impunity".
Here in the UK, it is vital we do what we can to help the situation. In 2019 the Bishop of Truro, Rev Philip Mounstephen, carried out and published an independent review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians.
The Bishop’s review made 22 recommendations for reforms, which will deliver real improvements to the lives of those persecuted because of their faith or belief.
Of the 22 recommendations, the UK has now fully delivered 10, and has made good progress on a further eight, with ministers confident that all 22 will be delivered by the time of the next independent review, later this year.
This progress is vital for so many people across the world, and I am delighted to see the UK taking a leading role in tackling this persecution. I look forward to following developments in this area and encouraging the Government to take all steps that it can to tackle this most important of issues.