Oppression and discrimination towards Christians has only worsened during the pandemic, says Release International [formerly Voice of the Martyrs].
[They said] many had been denied food and relief aid by governments and NGOs because of their faith. Some countries have escalated their crackdowns on Christians.
This is the case in China, where there were reports of Christians being arrested for meeting online to worship and pray during lockdown.
Authorities have "totally prohibited" online church services and prayer meetings, Release partners in China said. "Nothing constituting a religious service is allowed
They believe the Chinese Government is exploiting Covid-19 to increase its long-running crackdown on Christians.
"They have accelerated campaigns such as the forced demolition of crosses against even government-sanctioned churches," the partners said. "Pastors have been rounded up for sharing the gospel anddistributing face masks on the street."
In many countries, Christians have experienced crippling poverty during the pandemic.
In Algeria, there is no social security or government support, leaving many Christians struggling to get by.
A Release partner in Algeria said: "Many Christian families have had to stop work because of the lockdown and have lost their income. They have been rejected by society and their families as a result of their faith. The demand is huge."
In Pakistan, the situation has been especially difficult for converts from a Muslim background because the only form of financial support comes from families. Muslim families often withdraw this support to familymembers who convert to a different faith, Release said.
"These individuals have been rejected by society and their families as a result of their faith," said Release's Pakistan partners.
Just buying food and paying the rent has become a huge challenge for many impoverished Christians, let alone buying face masks and hand sanitizer. "The government is not able to support Christians in the villages, slums or brick kilns," the partners said.
In Upper Egypt, there have been reports of Christians being refused food and support from organizations distributing aid.
Release partners report: "The authorities are helping Muslims but not Christians. And churches that try to help are being closed by police order."