Christianity is disappearing from towns and cities in parts of the Middle East, warns a new report from the papal foundation Aid to the Church in Need.
It also said that persecution of Christians “has worsened the most” in South and East Asia.
Urgent action by the international community is needed to prevent more Christians fleeing countries, including Iraq and Syria, said the Oct. 23 report, “Persecuted and Forgotten?” It was based on a 2017-2019 study of the persecution of Christians around the world.
“Each person who leaves makes it harder for those left behind,” it said.
While noting that the international community has shown unprecedented concern about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the organization said “governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.”
Pope Francis has denounced the persecution, torture and killing of Christians in the Middle East, calling it a form of genocide that must end.
“Around the world, Christians are a favored target for violent militant extremists who operate without boundaries and who attack local Christians as a legitimate alternative to a direct strike on the West,” the organization said.
In India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other countries in South and East Asia, it said, “An increasing unity of purpose between religio-nationalist groups and governments represents a growing – and largely unrecognized – threat to Christians and other minorities.” In Asia, “Christianity is seen as not only alien but as an agent of unwanted Western influence.”
North Korea, where Christians face torture for professing their faith, “is widely considered the most dangerous place to be a Christian,” the report said.