WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A new survey finds that there were more than 2,000 reported cases worldwide of Christians killed because of their faith in 2013, nearly doubling the total from 2012.
According to Open Doors, a non-profit organization striving to raise awareness of global persecution, there were 2,123 “martyr” killings of Christians in 2013, compared to 1,201 in 2012, Reuters reports.
“Countries on the WWL (World Watch List), such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East and North Africa are targeting Christians; imprisoning, punishing, and even in some cases murdering people who choose to express privately or publicly their Christian faith,” Dr. David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a press release.
The group reported that more Christians were killed in Syria last year, 1,213, than any other country on its World Watch List. And in North Korea, between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are being held in concentration camps and prisons because of their faith.
“The 2014 WWL is a wakeup call to Americans to become more aware of these atrocities and restrictions on religious freedom,” Curry stated.
The top 10 countries on the list include North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
Countries that rose on the list include Pakistan, Colombia and Sri Lanka, with the Central African Republic becoming the new “hot spot” for Christian persecution.
“The country has been torn apart by warlords and especially foreign mercenaries from Chad and Sudan who target Christians for rape, robbery and murder,” Open Doors said in a statement.
The group estimated that nearly 100 million Christians were persecuted for their faith, according to Reuters.
“It is our intent through the WWL to encourage more people and organizations to carefully study the needs and stories of persecuted Christians, and as a result deepen the passion to pray for them,” Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, head of Strategy and Research for Open Doors International, said. “The WWL is more than a set of numbers. It must also be seen as a human document, reflecting millions of sad but also amazing stories of strong faith.”