One in seven Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith, becoming the target of frequent attacks such as rape, kidnapping and even death.
Christian persecution charity Open Doors has released the annual World Watch List of countries where believers face the most extreme persecution and discrimination.
Of the 360 million Christians who face persecution on a daily basis, 312 million live in the 50 countries that form the list, the report said.
North Korea, Somalia and Yemen are this year’s most dangerous countries to live in as a Christian, with the East Asian nation coming back to head the list after being topped by Afghanistan last year.
Following the Taliban take over in 2021, many Christians were executed as the regime went door-to-door to eradicate Christianity. However, Afghanistan has now fallen to number nine.
But Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors in the UK Ireland, told Premier the drop in the ranking does not necessarily mean an improvement in the conditions for Christians in the country.
“The reason for that [drop] appears to be a big reduction in the violence score. And that is because either the Christians have fled the country, or they have already been killed tragically, or they're in extremely deep hiding, and we only report deaths and incidents of violence that we can corroborate.”
“People should not be duped into thinking that things have got better for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. They definitely haven't,” Blyth continued.
The report is also warning of a wave of religiously motivated violence in Sub-Saharan Africa that is destabilising the region, with thousands Christians being targeted by Islamic groups.
Groups like Boko Haram are maiming, raping and kidnapping believers to eliminate the presence of Christianity.
“If violence was the only criteria for the list, Nigeria would be number one on the list,” Blyth continued.
“There are more deaths in Nigeria of Christians than in any other country. In fact, 90 per cent of the deaths we record of our Christian brothers and sisters happen in Nigeria. Last year, more than 5000 people were killed. And it does look like this is now in danger of destabilising the whole region, which is really concerning.”
The charity has also warned about the situation of Christians in China, with the communist government using new rules on the use of the internet to clamp down on underground churches and religious material.