NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Building on its effective advocacy on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, the Knights of Columbus will launch a new initiative to report on religious persecution in Nigeria.
"The effort is similar to what we have done in Iraq and is based in the hope that greater attention by American diplomacy and humanitarian aid can make a difference there," said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who announced the effort at the Knights' 138th annual convention this week.
Last year, the British Government reported that the persecution of Christians around the world is "near genocide levels."
It is estimated that some 60,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the past two decades. According to the Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria is now so dominated by terrorism that only Afghanistan and Iraq are worse.
"The European Union and the Catholic bishops of Europe recently condemned the violence against Christians in Nigeria," said Anderson. "Yet much more needs to be done to bring attention to this jihadist attempt at a new genocide."
Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus has spent more than $25 million on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities targeted for elimination in the Middle East. The support has funded rebuilding – and saving – the town of Karamles, Iraq, after its liberation from ISIS; feeding tens of thousands of displaced people; providing short-term and long-term housing for the displaced; supporting educational, medical and other programs for those targeted by ISIS.
Anderson and the Knights began a public advocacy campaign on behalf of victims in 2016. Anderson testified numerous times before Congress and asked the U.S. State Department to declare that a genocide was taking place in Iraq and Syria.
"When the State Department replied that it did not have sufficient evidence, we sent researchers to Iraq and compiled a 300-page report that included the names of Christians murdered and churches destroyed," said Anderson. "It also included an official ISIS price list for Christian women and girls to be sold as slaves."
"Based on the overwhelming evidence and legal analysis we submitted, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that a genocide was occurring," said Anderson. "Our efforts made a tremendous difference."
The K of C has since worked closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help humanitarian assistance more effectively reach devastated Christian communities.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, and other Christian leaders in the region have been quick to appreciate the help. Without the support of the Knights of Columbus, said Archbishop Warda, "Christianity would disappear in our region."
About the Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world's leading fraternal and service organizations with 2 million members in more than 16,000 parish-based councils. During the past year, Knights around the world donated more than 77 million service hours and $187 million for worthy causes in their communities. The organization also provides financial services to groups and individuals, resulting in more than $112 billion of life insurance in force, and through its money management firm, Knights of Columbus Asset Advisors, it invests in accord with Catholic social teachings. From helping children in need, to providing wheelchairs for the disabled, to helping stock food banks, to offering top-rated and affordable insurance products to its members, the Knights of Columbus has supported families and communities for more than 138 years.
SOURCE Knights of Columbus