Christians experiencing high levels of persecution rose 6% in 2019 to 260 million persons, according to a report from Open Doors published Jan. 15.
Open Doors is a U.S.-based nonprofit that focuses on supporting persecuted Christians around the world.
It publishes its World Watch List report to highlight the places that Christians face the highest levels of pressure and violence due to their faith.
The annual report assesses persecution levels based on violence and societal pressure Christians face due to their faith.
It found that in 2019 there were 2,983 Christians killed; 3,711 Christians detained, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned; and 9,488 churches or buildings attacked due to their Christian faith affiliation.
Brief profiles on the top 50 nations in which Christians face the highest levels of persecution are provided in the report, with North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan listed as the top five most dangerous places to live as a Christian.
Of these nations, 11 are classified as places of extreme persecution for Christians, 34 as having very high and five as high levels of persecution.
North Korea has topped Open Doors’ World Watch List for the past 18 years because of its strict regulations on religion and its long history of abuses toward Christians, according to an FAQ explaining the report’s methodology.
A U.S. Justice Department report notes that “The North Korean regime has an appalling human rights record and places unjust restrictions on its people’s inherent right to freedom of religion or belief. … There are an estimated 80,000–120,000 political prisoners currently languishing in North Korea’s notoriously harsh labor camps, as many as 50,000 of whom may be Christians.”
The full World Watch List report is available here.