International Christian Concern | June 4, 2020
Like many countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan placed its population on lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown had a dramatic effect on the country’s poor and minorities, as jobs were lost and food stores emptied.
During the lockdown, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported several incidents in which religious minorities, including Christians and Hindus, were denied food aid because of their religious identity. In some incidents, these individuals were asked to convert to Islam to receive desperately needed assistance to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Christian people in the villages are suffering,” Nadir Masih, a Christian denied food aid, told ICC. “We experienced rejection, which was heartbreaking. My children did not eat for two days. Also, Muslims indirectly pressured us to join their faith.”
Marleen Asif, whose husband remains in prison on a false blasphemy accusation, said, “My life has been full of difficulties. In the last seven years, I have not experienced happiness once. Every day we struggle and fight for survival. The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown has increased these difficulties.”
In response to testimonies like these, ICC stepped and provided desperately needed COVID-19 aid to persecuted Christian families in Pakistan.
Since April, ICC has provided food aid to 100 Christian families in Pakistan. These 100 families included families who were denied access to aid, families broken by the country’s blasphemy laws, and other vulnerable segments of Pakistan’s Christian community. For each of these families, ICC provided enough food to last a full month.
“During the last two months, I was rejected at two food aid distributions for being a Christian,” Kausar Bibi explained after receiving food aid from ICC. “We requested church leadership to arrange food for the deserving, so this distribution comes as a miracle for my family. My kids will enjoy the food for the next few weeks. We hope we will soon be able to earn an income and feed them. God bless you.”
Shahid Masih, another ICC beneficiary, said, “I am happy for this very decent amount of food. It will serve my family for a month, which means my children will have no worries and will sleep after eating a good meal.”
“I am a widow and am doubly victimized,” Shama, whose husband was killed by extremists in 2018, told ICC. “My children are less than 12-years-old, so I am passing through a very critical time. Today, I am sure my children will start dancing and enjoy that I have enough food for them. This is a blessing for us. May Jesus bless those who have provided and arranged this aid for us.”