Persecution of Christians Exacerbated by a Year of Covid-19 According to World Watch List 2021

SANTA ANA, CA — Open Doors has today launched their 2021 World Watch list highlighting the 50 worst countries for persecution. Their report also found that rather than the spread of Covid-19 slowing down the rate of persecution, in many cases, it has been greatly intensified – in a variety of forms:

  • Christians in numerous African and Asian nations have been refused coronavirus aid.
  • Islamic militants have exploited Covid-19 restrictions, increasing violence against Christians in sub-Saharan Africa by 30 per cent.
  • Covid-19 has legitimised repression through increased surveillance by authoritarian governments such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).here ffff
  • Women have been especially vulnerable in Covid-imposed lockdowns, with psychological violence as well as kidnapping and forced conversions.

The persecution of Christians around the world has grown, both numerically and in its intensity, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is according to figures released today in the 2021 World Watch List (WWL).

Open Doors reports record levels of persecution and discrimination across the globe, over the past year with more than 340 million Christians suffering high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland explains how the global pandemic has handed another weapon to the world’s worst persecutors.

Many Christians are poor and lockdown meant they couldn’t go out and work and for those who earn a daily wage that was absolutely disastrous. Then of course the governments and local authorities introduced food aid, but many Christians were discriminated against in the distribution of that aid. So, in [one country] where we’ve been helping upwards of 100,000 through our partners 80% have reported experiencing that sort of discrimination.

The future of Christianity in Iraq, which is number 11 on this year’s World Watch list, is under major threat with so many believers having fled the country due to persecution. Father Daniel who ministers to many displaced families in Northern Iraq explains more.

I remember in 2019 it was said there were only 225,000 Iraqi Christians. And if you compare this to the number of Christians before 2003 there were 1.5 million. So the number has dwindled by over 83% and this is very dangerous.

Meanwhile spiraling Islamist violence against Christians in north eastern Nigeria, is why this country was ranked number 9 on this year’s World Watch list. This follows a year where recorded killing of Christians has nearly tripled to 3,800.

Amina, who lives with her children in Borno State in Nigeria witnessed the execution of her husband at the hands of Boko Haram who later kidnapped her along with ten other women. But after 8 months they were miraculously released even though they refused to renounce their faith.

They would ask us who amongst you would want to denounce Christ, so we can take her to stay with our women and have freedom. And by His grace we all joined our hearts that none of us are going to denounce Christ. For us to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I could’ve been somewhere in the land of the dead by now. People could’ve been crying because I was gone, but I was just saved by His grace.

And Open Doors is encouraging Christians across the world to stand with these remarkable believers in the midst of increasing persecution.

About Open Doors USA

For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and to mobilize the Western church to pray and advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Paige Collins, Icon Media Group, 615-934-4162,

Read more news on Missions Box on Christian Persecution and the COVID-19 Crisis.

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