Oppression and discrimination towards believers in Christ has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.This is according to Release International, a nonprofit organisation which monitors and reports persecution of Christians around the world.
The charity, which serves Christians in more than 30 countries, said Church properties have been demolished during lockdown and that many believers have been denied food and relief aid by governments and NGOs because of their faith.
Release International CEO Paul Robinson said Christians in places hostile to the faith are experiencing increased hardship.“Food also now in short supply, as people are unable to work and can’t earn, and support is being withheld because of their faith.
“Their cries for help are being ignored by local charities who are distributing food packages only to families of other faiths. We can’t afford to delay. These Christians need our help.” he added.
In many countries, Christians have experienced crippling poverty during the pandemic. In Algeria, there is no social security or government support, leaving many Christians struggling to get by.
A Release partner in Algeria said: “Many Christian families have had to stop work because of the lockdown and have lost their income. They have been rejected by society and their families as a result of their faith. The demand is huge.”
The report also highlighted cases in China, where Christians are being arrested for meeting online to worship and pray during lockdown.Authorities have “totally prohibited” online church services and prayer meetings, Release partners in China said.
In Pakistan, the situation has been especially difficult for converts from a Muslim background because the only form of financial support comes from families. Muslim families often withdraw this support to family members who convert to a different faith.Just buying food and paying the rent has become a huge challenge for many impoverished Christians, let alone buying face masks and hand sanitiser.
In Upper Egypt, there have been reports of Christians being refused food and support from organisations distributing aid.
Release partners report that he authorities are helping Muslims but not Christians. And churches that try to help are being closed by police order.
Release partners are distributing aid packages to Christians in Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.