August 22 has been officially recognised by the United Nations as the International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief. This was the result of a resolution approved by the United Nations’ General Assembly on May 28, 2019.
ACN is now recommending the UN to set up a dedicated platform to enable representatives of the persecuted groups or the NGOs they work with, to get involved and provide immediate real-time information on how certain situations and challenges are emerging and evolving.
These case studies would serve as a basis for identifying persecution trends, who commits these types of atrocities, how they operate and by whom they are funded. This would make it possible to develop a tailor-made action plan to prevent such acts in the future, or even to prevent such acts from escalating into mass atrocities, such as genocide, as is happening today in Africa and Asia. The ultimate goal is that there will be no further acts of religious persecution in the future.
For nearly 75 years, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) − an international Catholic pontifical charitable foundation − has been helping Christians suffering discrimination and/or persecution in practical ways.
ACN had welcomed the 2019 resolution as a first step in focusing more attention to the tragedy of religious persecution, particularly in the face of violence against Christians. To this day, Christians are the largest religious group facing most persecutions.
On a daily basis, ACN gathers information on this tragic reality. This is further confirmed by research in international reports on religious freedom, such as those published by the commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Pew Research Centre and ACN itself. All of them continue to find an unprecedented increase in violence against people of almost every religion, on every continent − but Christians are the ones experiencing the greatest persecution.
Stephen Axisa, national director of ACN (Malta), said: “On a daily basis, here in Malta, we continue to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted and oppressed Christians around the world via social media and other channels. We want to support them in further strengthening their faith. Despite such tragic situations, they continue to live their faith.”
Thanks to the generosity of ACN benefactors worldwide, more than 5,000 projects in about 140 countries are being funded each year. These projects also serve to show Christians that they are not alone.
As much as financial support is needed, so is knowledge about the suffering of Christians. This way their pleas can reach the policymakers that can act to change things for the better, so that serious abuses begin to subside until they become history.
More information is available at www.acnmalta.org.
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