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Release International has launched an appeal in support of Christians fleeing persecution hotspots around the world. 

They include Christian refugees who have left Afghanistan to escape the Taliban, and Nigeria where Christians face “the greatest threat of violence”.

Afghanistan was one of the countries designated a country of concern in Release International’s recently published 2022 Persecution Trends. 

One partner said Christians in Afghanistan fear violent treatment at the hands of the Taliban and being reported by family or neighbours. 

Release International has also received reports of homes being searched and some individuals being threatened. 

The reports echo the conclusions of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which says it has received credible reports of violence against religious minorities, including executions, disappearances, evictions, desecration of houses of worship, beatings and harassment.

The Taliban has also gone “door-to-door” looking for US allies, former government workers, rights activists and Christian converts. 

“Converts who already faced ostracisation and the threat of honour killings by family and village members are now at heightened risk with the Taliban in power,” the USCIRF says in its latest factsheet on Afghanistan.

“The Taliban regime and rival militant group Islamic State … have intimidated, threatened, and targeted members of religious minority communities and carried out violent attacks.”

Release International CEO Paul Robinson said: “In 2022, there is a very real threat of higher levels of violent persecution in Afghanistan.” 

In Nigeria, Release International partners warn of a “slow-motion war” unfolding in the country. 

They say that “more Christians are being killed in Nigeria than anywhere else on the face of the earth”, with around 17 Christians murdered every day. 

“Mass killings have become a national emergency,” they say. 

Funds raised by the appeal will also go towards assisting persecuted Eritrean Christians who sought shelter in Ethiopia only to be caught up in fighting in the Tigray region, and Christians in Syria who are now experiencing economic hardship in Lebanon. 

“We see Christians being uprooted all around the world,” said Robinson.

“Through our trusted partners on the ground, Release International is providing Christians in flight with the essentials they need for survival.

“We’re also providing pastoral care and vocational training. Our aim is to encourage those who have had to flee to stand strong and grow in their faith despite such challenging circumstances.”

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