India’s Christian victims too scared to return home
Speaking from India, journalist Anto Akkara told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that, while the state government had officially dissolved the camps for Christians who fled mob violence in Orissa last August, there are still about 1,000 Christians living in tents. At their height the displacement camps housed 50,000 refugees, many of who have gone back to their villages.
Akkara said that most of the Christians who have not returned are living in the slums of Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Orissa, east India, fearing the government will not be able to protect them should violence erupt again. His remarks follow the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s decision earlier this month to put India on its “Watch List” for “the government’s largely inadequate response in protecting its religious minorities.”
ACN provided initial emergency relief for those in the camps, temporary tent chapels where Mass could be said, and has promised help to Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar to rebuild churches and other buildings destroyed in the violence. During the anti-Christian pogroms of last August, more than 70 people were killed, 5,031 homes were attacked, and 171 churches targeted.