At least three Christians killed in northern Cameroon; blockade of Christian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh continues; Pakistan strengthens “blasphemy” law; 25 abducted from church in Nigeria; Egypt licenses 73 more churches.
- At least three Christians have died in jihadi violence in northern Cameroon during January 2023. Our contacts in the region have reported six attacks on churches by Islamist group Boko Haram. The terrorists also looted and burned houses, causing many to flee. Pray that the Lord will comfort the bereaved and provide for those who have been forced from their homes.
- The Christian-majority region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been suffering a blockade for the past six weeks. The Armenian Christian enclave, lying within Azerbaijan’s territory, has been cut off from Armenia since 12 December, as Azerbaijani protestors blockade the only access route, the mountain road known as the Lachin Corridor. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are suffering shortages of medication, fuel, medicine, hygiene products, and especially food – but Barnabas Aid has sent food in. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Nagorno-Karabakh, asking that the situation will be resolved.
Please see our recent appeal on behalf of Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
- The National Assembly of Pakistan has passed an amendment to the country’s “blasphemy” law that increases the punishment for insulting the companions, wives or family members of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, from three years to ten years’ imprisonment. Those convicted will also receive a fine of one million rupees ($6,670). There is already a mandatory death sentence for “defiling the name” of Muhammad. Ask the Lord to protect Christians and other non-Muslims in Pakistan, who are especially vulnerable to spurious accusations of “blasphemy”.
- Islamist gunmen abducted 25 Christians who were attending a church service in Kankara Local Government Area, Katsina State, Nigeria, on Sunday 15 January. The minister, Pastor Haruna, was shot in the hand and taken to hospital. Pray that those who have been abducted will be released unharmed, and ask that Pastor Haruna will make a full recovery from his injury.
- The government of Egypt has licensed a further 73 churches and church-affiliated buildings. Announced on 24 January, it is the 25th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in 2017. The decision brings the number of churches granted licences to 2,599 out of the 3,730 that applied for registration after a Law for Building and Restoring Churches abolished Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016. Give thanks for the granting of licences and for the supportive stance of Egypt’s government towards the Christian community.