Persecution is real. It is a daily reality for more than 260 million Christians worldwide. How do we know this? Every year, Open Doors produces the World Watch List to rank the top 50 most dangerous countries to live in as a Christian. It is the product of both desk and field research and is the only document of its kind. Independently audited by the International Institute of Religious Freedom, it is the most trusted source of information concerning persecuted Christians.
Almost nine years of civil war in Syria (no. 11) and years of conflict in Iraq (no. 15) continue to devastate Christian communities.
In Iraq, where Christians had numbered 1.5 million before 2003, they are now around 202,000 – an 87% reduction within one generation. Some have trickled back to rebuild their homes, mainly in the Nineveh Plain, but their return is complicated by security, education, health and employment difficulties. Iranian-backed Shiite militias continue to threaten, harass and intimidate Christians.
Syria presents a more complex picture. Of the pre-conflict Christian population of 2.2 million, it is estimated that around 744,000 remain. There continues to be fuel, water and food shortages, as well as meager medical facilities, and education and employment opportunities. The Syrian Christian population remains either largely displaced inside the country, or as refugees outside it.
The Turkish incursion into north-eastern Syria has directly affected 40,000 or more Christians in the principally Kurdish region. All these factors are key to fast disappearing Christianity in the region. Open Doors, with the help of support from partners like you, is doing all it can to keep faith alive. By helping rebuild homes and provide for centres of hope, little by little Christians in the region have reason to remain to be salt and light for the Kingdom of God.