Religious persecution is a major factor in the global refugee crisis facing the international community. The statistics are staggering. According to the UN, the world is currently experiencing an unprecedented movement of people driven from their countries, not just by religious discrimination or persecution, but also by conflict, poverty, and many other challenges. Last year saw an estimated 65.6 million people displaced from their homes. A vast number of these—almost 50 percent—were children and young people.
A report issued last week by an independent US body—the US Commission on International Religious Freedom—cited 28 countries for serious religious freedom violations. A number of these countries and regions are at the center of the refugee crisis, including Myanmar (Burma), whose brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslims has driven hundreds of thousands into overcrowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh and the Islamic State group’s continuing “genocidal campaign” against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims in the Middle East.
The International Religious Liberty Association has long worked to raised awareness about the connection between religious freedom violations and the increase in global migration and asylum-seeking. This topic was the focus of a symposium co-sponsored by the IRLA at the United Nations in January this year. Later this year, at the IRLA’s annual Meeting of Experts, we’ll continue exploring issues surrounding religious freedom and refugees and migrants.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)—which was also a co-sponsor of the UN symposium on refugees earlier this year—has launched an effort to raise awareness in the US Congress about the plight of refugees around the world. If you live in the United States, you can make your voice heard by going to https://www.cqrcforms.com/adra/index.asp.
BETTINA KRAUSE | Communication director International Religious Liberty Association 12501 Old Columbia Pike | Silver Spring Maryland 20904 | USA 301-680-6684 | 301-346-6139 www.irla.org | facebook.com/irla.hq | @irla_usa