BY Ian Dunn | October 13 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-ARCHBISHOP-ISSAM-LEBANO

Report: UN is ‘ignoring’ Christian persecution

Research prompts Lebanese archbishop to ask Scotland for prayers

The persecution of Christians around the world is worse than at any time in history but is being ignored by the UN, according to a new report.

Lebanese Archbishop Issam John Darwich (above) spoke about the ‘Persecuted and Forgotten?’ report during a visit to Scotland this week.

The research, compiled by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), concludes that the persecution of Christians reached a high water mark in 2015-17, with growing attacks on the faithful by ISIS, Boko Haram, and other fundamentalist groups.

“Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report reads. “If Christian organisations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”

Speaking after a special event at Hampden Park in Glasgow, where 250 children from Catholic schools came to hear about ACN’s work, report editor John Pontifex said: “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history.

“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.”

 

Violence

Although the report found that many faith communities around the world have suffered at the hands of extremists and authoritarian regimes, it concluded that Christians have experienced the most hostility and violence.

In Iraq, more than half of the country’s Christian population became internal refugees, and Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which until 2011 was home to the largest Christian community, saw numbers dropping from 150,000 to barely 35,000 by spring 2017—a fall of more than 75 per cent.

Mr Pontifex said that the international community, and especially the UN had failed Christians in the Middle East.

“In Syria and Iraq after you had Christians killed and forced from their homes in what was a genocide, the UN did not respond strongly enough, and the aid they sent was not enough,” he said. “Without the help of organisations like ACN, there might well be no Christians left in these areas today.”

 

Fleeing danger

Archbishop Darwich, of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, told the SCO that he had seen first-hand that many of the hundreds of thousands of Christians who fled Syria could not go to UN camps in Lebanon because it was too dangerous.

“They were controlled by extremists who did not want them there,” he said. “So we the Church, with help from ACN, looked after them—we welcomed them into our homes, our schools, our churches.”

He said he had come to Scotland to ask Scottish Catholics to pray for Middle Eastern Christians.

“Pray for us so we can stay in the Middle East,” he said. “The presence of Christians in the land of Jesus Christ is absolutely vital. If it is empty of Christians, a great darkness will fall over the world.”

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