The World Watch List is the most authoritative list of its kind, studying the most dangerous places to be a Christian. This year, we have seen that persecution has only grown, both in likelihood and severity. Here are some trends in persecution and discrimination as revealed by the World Watch List. For the first time ever, all countries ranked in the World Watch List top 50 score at least “very high” levels of persecution and discrimination. 12 countries saw “extreme” levels of persecution and discrimination, another increase on last year’s list. Persecution has intensified and reaches at least 340 million Christians today. That’s 1 in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America.
Authorities across Asia have restricted Christians from accessing medical treatment and supplies. In fact, 80% of those that received emergency relief from Open Doors in India were first excluded from official distribution. Across the Middle East, the enforcement of quarantine laws has forced Christians back into the homes of those who persecute them, often their own family members. In countries like Iran, some Christian doctors and nurses were forced to run COVID-19 clinics with no PPE as their governments believe that Christians are expendable. North Korea has been ranked as the most dangerous country for Christians since 2002. Experts say there is no sign of any improvement in the lives of the estimated 200,000 – 400,000 Christians remaining in the country. Right now, around 50,000 – 70,000 Christians are believed to be imprisoned in labour camps.
The church has faced 30% higher levels of violence compared to last year in countries like Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon. Nigeria has re-entered the World Watch List top 10 in 2021, with more Christians killed in Nigeria than any other country. New religious laws in China have sought to control all religious activity across the nation. In the last three years, China has escalated from #43 to #17 on the World Watch List. Many churches have been forced to close down, surveillance cameras are monitoring registered Christian activity and some believers have been sent to ‘re-education camps’. Comoros re-entered the World Watch List top 50. The government has openly denied freedom of religion for its citizens. A Christian caught preaching the gospel can face a year in prison.
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