World Refugee Day: Refugees in South East Asia

masih-chained-to-bed-bcpa
(Image from British Pakistani Christian Association)

This Sunday marks another opportunity for churches to set aside time to show concern and support for refugees!

Jubilee Campaign has long supported refugees fleeing Pakistan.

In Pakistan, Christians are regularly discriminated against, harassed, and attacked for their faith. Blasphemy laws, which prohibit any utterance against Islam, are used maliciously against Christians. Christians accused of blasphemy can face hefty fines, life in prison, or even death.

In its 2016 Annual Report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that approximately 40 Pakistanis are currently serving life sentences or are sentenced to death under blasphemy charges.

In addition, churches and places of worship are often targeted and attacked, school curriculum discriminates against religious minorities, and Christians fear being attacked or killed for speaking about their faith or against blasphemy laws. This fear has led religious minorities, especially Christians, to seek refuge in other countries.

Jubilee Campaign works to both prevent Pakistani Christians from turning into refugees and assisting those who have already fled the country. Our first step is prevention. We tirelessly advocate for a more inclusive political and social environment for religious minorities in Pakistan. This includes advocating for the repeal of blasphemy laws in the country and encouraging efforts to combat extremism.

We also aid those who have already been forced to leave. Thousands of Pakistani Christians have to make a quick escape by obtaining a visitor’s visa to Thailand. Once there, they apply for asylum with the United Nations refugee office located in Bangkok. There are approximately 10,000 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers currently in Bangkok.

Due to a backlog in processing by the UN, these asylum seekers end up overstaying their visitor’s visas. Since Thailand is not signed on to international law protecting refugees, they are considered illegal. Thai authorities regularly round up these asylum seekers and throw them in jail or the Immigration Detention Center, where they live in cramped and dirty conditions.

A sad report came out just this month of a Christian Pakistani man who died in a detention center because he was denied medical treatment. This is not how refugees should be treated. We are continuously advocating for the better treatment of refugees in Bangkok.

Jubilee Campaign financially partners with an organization in Bangkok to provide food, housing, and education to Pakistani Christians in Thailand. If you would like to donate to support a family, please give here.