The 2021


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Persecution is real. It is a daily reality for hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide.

How do we know this?

Every year, Open Doors produces the World Watch List to rank the top 50 most dangerous countries in which 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.

Here, you can download your own copy of the World Watch List and learn about the plights facing your persecuted family around the globe.

IN 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has worked as a catalyst in many countries, exposing existing oppression and becoming another tool for persecution.

Christians have found it difficult to access humanitarian relief due to high levels of discrimination. Take for instance, India. 80% of Christians receiving aid reported that they were dismissed from food distribution points. Some walked miles and hid their Christian identity to get food elsewhere.

Not only did discrimination increase, but there has been an increase in domestic vulnerability during the imposed COVID-19 lockdown measures. Converts to Christianity and women have been particularly under pressure. Reports of the kidnapping, forcible conversion and forced marriage of women and girls have increased.

While in some parts of the world, restrictions and curfews largely meant a drop in violence against Christians, in sub-Saharan Africa, the Church faced a significant increase in violence. In fact, the pandemic enabled Islamic extremism to spread in Sub-Saharan Africa.

For authoritarian governments, such as China, COVID-19 legitimized increased surveillance and restrictions to control populations that are deviant to the norm, like Christians.

But it wasn’t only governments that used the pandemic to their benefit, but also criminal groups. In Latin America, organized criminal groups used the virus as means to extend their control. In Mexico, when pastors and church leaders challenged the criminal groups control, they could be extorted, ambushed, robbed, shot or even killed.

As 2021 begins, the pandemic is not finished, and neither are its affects on our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please continue to pray with us for our persecuted family.

More than 340m Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. In Open Doors’ World Watch List top 50 alone, 309m Christians face very high or extreme levels.

Persecution is increasing across the globe. More than 340m Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. For the first time in the World Watch List’s 29 year history, every country in the top 50 is ranked as experiencing very high or extreme levels of persecution, scoring more than 60 points each. Beyond the top 50, there are another 24 countries that scored at least 41 points, meaning they experience high levels of persecution.

Here is a list of the countries outside the top 50 which scored at least a high level of persecution:

  • Cuba
  • Sri Lanka
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Niger
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Tanzania
  • Russian Federation
  • Djibouti
  • Bahrain
  • Azerbaijan
  • Chad
  • Nicaragua
  • Burundi
  • Uganda
  • Guinea
  • Honduras
  • Angola
  • South Sudan
  • Gambia
  • Togo
  • Rwanda
  • Ivory Coast
  • El Salvador

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in all these countries.

Religious Nationalism is a driving force for persecution in countries like India and Turkey.

In India are daily confronted with forceful propaganda as the drive to convert the country back to Hinduism kicks into high gear. With the notion that “To be Indian, you must be Hindu”, mobs continue to attack and harass Christians & Muslims with impunity.

India also continues to block the flow of foreign funds to many Christian-run hospitals, schools and church organizations. Making it hard for Christian organizations to operate in the country.

Turkey, likewise, has made significant gestures of hostility against Christianity. Most notably, turning historic Christian churches that were acting as museums into mosques – all to strengthening Turkish nationalism.

Turkish influence spreads beyond its borders. It has backed Azerbaijan in its conflict with predominately Christian Armenia.

In northern Iraq, at least 25 Christian villages have been emptied as a result of Turkish attacks in the last year. Many are among those who fled Nineveh Plains and Mosul during Islamic State’s control.

Turkey’s relocation of its refugees back into northeast Syria continues to change the demographics of the region. This leaves Kurdish Christian converts from Islam especially vulnerable. Many have had to flee once more.

Turkey also has stake in Libya and its offshore oil and gas – based on ambitions for a revived Ottoman Empire. It is known to support local jihadist factions, as well as for bringing in more than 4,000 Syrian jihadists.


The Faith Factor is a report on the work of local faith actors in Iraq. You can learn about the impact that faith-based organizations make in places where Christians deal with persecution!
Download your free copy here.