As religious minorities from Afghanistan face an uncertain future, the role of Special Envoy for freedom of religion and belief at the EU has been left vacant again.
Christos Stylianides has accepted a different position, having only taken on the role in May. Before that, the position was empty for two years. Human rights experts had raised concern over the poor resourcing and staffing provided to carry out a mandate approved in 2016 to promote freedom of religion after the growth of ISIS. The Special Envoy also helped the Christian Asia Bibi safely leave Pakistan after being acquitted of blasphemy charges.
"The current plight of Christians, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities in Afghanistan highlights the need for a Special Envoy to quickly get to work, focusing on the needs of the most persecuted worldwide," said Adina Portaru, senior counsel for Christian freedom organisation ADF International.
"A swift reappointment is crucial in showing real commitment to improving the precarious situations religious minorities are facing worldwide."
The Cypriot, Christos Stylianides is set to leave his role as Special Envoy after accepting an appointment as Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in the Greek government. He was granted honorary Greek citizenship in order to assume the position.