'Appalling' Roadside Camp for Pakistani Christians Raises Concern

A U.K. group that aids the persecuted church expressed deep concern about the "appalling" living conditions of Christians in a squalid refugee camp in downtown Islamabad.

According to a recent CNN Behind the Scene story, some 2,000 Christians are living in tents under 110 degree heat with their only source of water – used for drinking and washing – running over a trash site.

Journalist Cal Perry reports that two people have died during the three months the camp has housed the Christians, and "children lay in the sun, totally exposed to the sun, suffering slowly."

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The ministry Barnabas Fund, which referenced the CNN story, said it is working through local partners in Pakistan to help these desperate believers by distributing practical aid such as food and clean water to the families.

It says that for $56.94 a whole family can be fed for a month. And for $12.15, five containers of five gallons of water can be bought.

"Here is a real opportunity to save lives. Our brothers and sisters in Islamabad are in dire need of material assistance to prevent disease ravaging their already stricken camp," said Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of Barnabas Fund.

About a year ago, Barnabas Fund explained, about 214 Christian families were promised land in the Chak Shahzad district of Islamabad. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) of Islamabad told the families to temporarily set up tents on their promised land until the deal was finalized.

But about three months ago, the CDA changed its mind, which forced the families to live in the middle of the road in filthy conditions and where up to 20 people share one tent.

One of Barnabas Fund's partners in Pakistan commented, "Since Christians are discriminated against by the majority population, nothing has been done to help them."

Sookhdeo urged, "Please be praying that we can raise the necessary funds quickly to meet this life-threatening need."

This week, several other Christian and church groups have also advocated on behalf of Pakistani Christians.

Jubilee Campaign and other international rights organization met with Pakistan's Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States on Tuesday to discuss how Pakistan should promote laws that protect religious minorities. And the Network of Interfaith Concerns for the Anglican Communion announced that it is one of the main sponsors of a petition asking the government of Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy law, which has regularly been abused to unjustly attack the Christian minority.

Christians make up less than three percent of Pakistan's population of 176 million people and are among the country's poorest and most oppressed communities.

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