According to the UN, one in every 113 people on earth is a refugee, but in Lebanon, that number is 1 in 5. Lebanon is, by far, the country with the highest number of refugees per inhabitant, and second only to Turkey in accepting the highest number of refugees from Syria – currently 1.4 million.
Across Lebanon’s mountainous border, there even more Syrians finding shelter before trying to leave. In the last five years, Syria has undergone the ‘largest displacement crisis globally’ says the UN – more than half its pre-war population of 22 million no longer live in their own home, with around 7.6 million Syrians being internally displaced and 4.8 million registered refugees outside of Syria. The UN estimates that of the 1.8 million Christians living in Syria before the war, only 600,000 – 900,000 remain.
Before the war, The city of Aleppo had one of the largest Christian populations in Syria but that number has dwindled to fewer than 40,000, according to Open Doors’ World Watch Research Unit. This besieged city has been on the front line of fighting between the government, rebel forces and Islamic State for much of the war.
Thousands of Christians have also left Iraq, or been internally displaced, because of conflict involving Islamic State. In 2003, Iraq’s second city, Mosul, was home to one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, but after being under the control of ISIL, there are now virtually no Christians left in this city.
Exact numbers of Christians to have fled Syria and Iraq are unknown, but the Open Doors World Watch Research Unit calculates that 1 in 4 refugees is a Christian. One of the problems is that many Christians refugees avoid refugee transit centres because they fear being potential targets of religiously motivated crimes.
Christians in refugee centres in Germany have frequently faced religiously motivated abuse and violent attacks from other refugees and Muslim security officials, and Muslims who have converted to Christianity are especially vulnerable.
- Pray for the millions of Syrians and Iraqis displaced by the ongoing conflict in their countries. Pray for safe places to live, for the opportunity to work, and, ultimately, for them to be able to return to their homes.
- Pray for Christian refugees, who are often unable to live in refugee camps or to register as official refugees due to abuse from fanatical Muslims.Pray for their protection, and for courage and endurance to stand firm in their faith in Jesus Christ.
- Pray that more countries will open their eyes to the plight of the Christians and find safe havens for these vulnerable people.
- Pray for the witness of Christians working in refugee camps, that many within the camps will come to know the truth of Jesus Christ for themselves and their families.
- Pray for an end to the conflict across Iraq and Syria, for healing and restoration of hope for their people.
Psalm 10 vs 17 – 18: “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.“