India’s Christians ignored
Problems for people in India are piling up: While still battling the COVID-19 virus, the country’s east has been hit by the worst cyclone in a decade, the northern states are suffering under a heatwave and the west and central parts are fighting an invasion of locusts. For Christians, the situation is worse because they often are ignored when aid is distributed.
While the government and non-governmental organizations are trying to help people by distributing food aid, Christians often are bypassed, a local partner has told us.
“Aid is being distributed to the local shop or the local village committee and they won’t give Christians the food, not even when they have a food ration card,” said the local partner, whose real name is being withheld for security reasons.
India ranks among the top 10 of the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. If living in a village outside major cities, the challenges can involve forms of social boycotting. One example: Christians are forbidden to buy food or draw water from the local well, forcing them to find food and water elsewhere. Covid-19 restrictions on movement, however, have made that impossible and, as a by-product, also jeopardize employment and income.
The OD partner said a Christian family was denied help from the local village committee because the Hindu villagers said the family already had received help from foreigners. “The reality was that they were laborers who had lost their income and now nobody gave them any supplies to survive,” she said.
A disabled Christian man and his family in another village also were ignored when food aid arrived. “They have been opposed by the village since they came to faith and the local people aren’t willing to give him and his family any food,” the OD partner said.
We work in partnership with local church partners to help persecuted Christians in India with urgent aid and relief, persecution preparedness training, and local advocacy. During the isolation period to deter the virus from spreading, rapid relief of emergency aid has been provided to persecuted Christians who need support. So far, some 1,000 families have received vital food and other supplies to last for at least one month, and preparations are underway to help another 7,000 families.
As of June 11, India is among the top 4 countries worst-hit by COVID-19 with almost 7,000 new infections registered in one day, leading to close to 300,000 confirmed cases (NDTV).
One of the provinces with the highest number of infections, West Bengal in northeast India, was hit last week by Amphan, the biggest cyclone in 10 years. In the capital Kolkata, or Calcutta, it destroyed homes, flooded roads, and cut electricity to 14 million people. The province’s chief minister told India’s press agency the destruction caused by the cyclone was “a bigger disaster than COVID-19” as reported on the BBC.
- Please pray for those impacted by the pandemic in India to find relief, and that our brothers and sisters would not be overlooked by the government and other relief agencies.