11/17/2020 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – This week, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom is in full force, hosted virtually by the government of Poland. During Day One of the Ministerial on Monday, government officials representing numerous countries presented statements of commitment to international religious freedom. Today, members of the civil society along with members of the United States government continue the program informing attendees on pertinent topics and issues.
While the official program continues, a robust agenda of side events rolls alongside the main events. ICC hosted a successful program with the Hungarian Government’s relief program ‘Hungary Helps’ on Monday morning highlighting the need for more humanitarian aid for the persecuted Christians. The event also covered other aspects, including how implementation of humanitarian aid helps to preserve and build the climate of religious freedom in countries where persecution is rampant.
The event hosted Tristan Azbej (State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and for the Hungary Helps Program in the Prime Minister’s Office from the Government of Hungary), Jeff King (President of ICC), Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah (Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria), Todd Chasteen (Vice President for Policy and General Council, Samaritan’s Purse), Samah Norquist (Chief Advisor for International Religious Freedom to the Administrator of USAID), Baroness Caroline Cox (CEO of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust), Ewelina Ochab (Human Rights Advocate, Coalition for Genocide Response) as well as ICC’s own field expert working on the ground in Nigeria. The Program was led by ICC’s Director of Advocacy, Matias Perttula.
Nearly 80 people attended the virtual event, which garnered over 160 RSVP’s.
While it would seem that humanitarian aid being needed for victims of persecution is something fairly obvious, the reality is that many governments and organizations overlook the connection as a whole and ignore the needs produced by persecution. This event worked to change that narrative. Persecution is one of the most significant driving factors behind the growing need of humanitarian aid. Across the world, people are consistently oppressed, attacked and displaced largely because of their religious identity or chosen faith. Religious minorities are regularly marginalized, looked down upon, and treated as second-class citizens because they are not a part of the majority faith community.
It is hard for many uninformed westerners, especially those in leadership, to appreciate the role that faith and religion play in the daily lives of people around the world. Throughout many countries, religion determines factors for individuals including opportunities in economic, educational and societal life. As a result, most minorities do not enjoy the same opportunities as the majority.
Humanitarian aid for the persecuted fills the void created by bigotry, hatred and systemic marginalization by providing to the lacking areas. Humanitarian aid builds farms, opens destroyed businesses, and improves schools: it gives people hope for a new life. Humanitarian aid must be increased to meet the growing need produced by religious discrimination.
You can listen to a recording of the event here: