Nepalese Christians Face Starvation, Persecution Amid Pandemic


nepal

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – aid workers say thousands of persecuted Christians in -majority Nepal face a lack of medical care and starvation amid an ongoing pandemic in the Asian nation.

“Christians are marginalized and victimized by Hindu extremists. And we can also experience recent community persecution,” said a local Christian aid worker in remarks sent to Worthy .

Even hospitalized Christian COVID patients are discriminated against and not given as good care as other patients, according to Christians familiar with the situation.

“For poor Christians, the situation is disastrous. They cannot afford medical care, let alone quarantining in hotels as is now being done for wealthier COVID patients in Nepal,” added aid group, Barnabas Fund.

“More than 15,000 churches are closed, leaving thousands of pastors penniless and struggling to feed their families because there are no offerings collected in meetings. Yet their church members, who have lost their jobs due to lockdown or persecution, continue to look to their pastors for practical help as well as spiritual care,” the group explained.

There is also an issue with the burial of Christians dying of or with , according to Christians. The government has reportedly refused to give land for their funeral in the capital Kathmandu. Instead, the human remains have to be taken 600 kilometers (373 miles) away to Nepalgunj, another COVID hotspot.

CATASTROPHE

While the world is focused on the “pandemic catastrophe” in India, neighboring Nepal is plunging into the same morass, aid officials warn. “What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute,” confirmed Nepal Red Cross chairman Dr. Netra Prasad Timsina.

Hospitals are already overwhelmed, according to aid workers. While most people survive COVID-19 in Nepal, already weak and impoverished Christians face more difficulties than those living in more tolerant and wealthier nations, data suggested.

Nepal has reportedly only 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, a lower figure than India. There are fewer than 600 ventilators for its population of some 30 million, added Barnabas Fund. The mountains and dirt roads of this landlocked country make logistics very challenging, it stressed.

A strict two-week lockdown that ended May 12 was reportedly extended for 15 days in and around the capital Kathmandu. But Nepal’s long and porous border with India, frequently crossed by Nepali migrant workers, and “a haphazard vaccination program” means that the coronavirus is virtually impossible to hold back, Barnabas Fund noted.

Local Christian aid workers supported by Barnabas Func pleaded for “basic survival needs” for COVID-affected people within the poor and persecuted Christian community.

“Food for hungry families is the main priority, followed by medical needs. Food is also needed for hospital patients and their relatives caring for them,” Barnabas Fund told Worthy News.

It said it is raising funds among donors for “the forgotten Christians of Nepal.” Christians comprise roughly 1.4 percent of the nation’s mainly Hindu population of some 30 million, according to official estimates.

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