World Refugee Day 2021: Persecution threatens to trigger famine –

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) estimates that more than 15 million people are presently internally displaced in the 12 countries identified by ACN’s 2021Religious Freedom in the World Report as suffering severe to extreme religious persecution in Africa. Large agricultural areas are emptied as people flee from profit-driven mercenaries incited by extremist preachers and armed by transnational terrorist groups. To mark World Refugee Day 2021, June 20, Mark von Riedemann, editorial committee chairman of the Report reflects on the crisis. June 20 is the UN-designated World Refugee Day. A principal concern, as identified in ACN’s recently published Religious Freedom Report, is the relationship between Islamist extremism and internally displaced persons in Africa. According to the latest information released by Aid to the Church in Need’s worldwide Religious Freedom Report published in April 2021, faith groups in 26 countries around the world suffer from serious to severe levels of persecution. Almost 50 percent of these—12 countries—are in Africa. Although many factors are involved, a significant concern is the extraordinary growth of local and transnational jihadist groups, which systematically persecute all those—Muslims and Christians—who do not accept their extreme Islamist ideology. According to a January 2021 report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, there was a 43 percent spike in militant Islamist group violence in Africa in 2020. The almost 5,000 reported events linked to these groups represent a record level of violence. The resulting movement of populations fleeing the violence, whether as internally displaced persons (IDPs) or as refugees in neighboring countries, is of great concern. As an example, in 2020, in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province alone, incidents of Islamist extremist violence rose 129 percent with more than two-thirds of the attacks targeting civilians. Today, according to the International Organization for Migration, there are more than 730,000 IDPs in Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula, Zambezia and Sofala Provinces.

World Refugee Day 2021: Persecution threatens to trigger famine –

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