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17 October 2023

At least 29 Christians, including children, killed following airstrike on IDP camp in Myanmar

As conflict persists in Myanmar, Christians continue to get caught in the crossfire, with a recent incident claiming the lives of at least 29 believers. Please keep the country and its beleaguered believers in your prayers.

IDP camp in Myanmar

Thousands of people in Myanmar, including Christians, have fled their homes and are in IDP camps because of the country's ongoing conflict

At least 29 Christians, including children, have been tragically killed in an airstrike on a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Myanmar. An additional 56 people were wounded in the incident, which occurred earlier this month in the Christian-majority state of Kachin. The military are believed to be responsible; those who fled the attacks are now stranded in the forests as the shelling continues.

Since the 2021 military coup that has deepened Myanmar’s long-running civil war, thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, sometimes more than once. One third of the population is now in need of humanitarian aid, with two million people internally displaced.

Three deacons killed

As this latest incident shows, Christians are often caught in the crossfire between the army and multiple resistance groups. They are also at risk of being targeted by both sides who suspect them of supporting the opposition, even though in many cases they are involved with neither. 

could train three Christians so they understand the dangers of being digitally spied on – and remain connected, resilient and fruitful.

In July, the army kidnapped and tortured three deacons and a pastor from a church in Chin state, accusing the church of supporting one of the armed groups. Whilst the pastor managed to escape, the deacons are believed to have died. 

One Christian young man from Kayah state told Open Doors local partners how one day the fighting was so severe, he and his community had to flee. “We had to run for our lives into the jungle and hide so we would not be hit by the shelling,” he said. “We stayed there for some time but then tried to go back to the village to retrieve some of our utensils, clothes and blankets, but it was dangerous. We realised we could not stay in our village anymore and we moved around searching for a safe place to stay.”

The coup has also led to the military developing their surveillance capabilities, and this put many Christians in even greater danger – including Ko Aung*, who features in our current digital persecution campaign. Like many believers, he’s been wrongly suspected of involvement in the opposition, and it’s meant he’s had to flee the country. 

“It’s hard to pray during difficult times” 

Since the coup in 2021, Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has filed eight reports and updates on the situation in Myanmar. “People in Myanmar have long suffered with insufficient attention being paid by the international community to their plight,” he told the UN Human Rights Council in September. “That must change.”

Türk added that the human rights situation in Myanmar had further deteriorated in recent months, with mass killings, airstrikes and burning of villages by the military but also some rebel groups. “New thinking on Myanmar is needed - urgently – to bring this unspeakable tragedy to an end,” he said.

Open Doors local partners are coming alongside Christians in the country with support including emergency aid and persecution survival training. Thank you for helping make this possible, and please continue to pray into the escalating crisis, particularly as many believers are struggling themselves to pray. “Though we are Christians, it is hard to pray during the difficult times,” continues the young man from Kayah state.

*Name changed for security reasons

Please pray
  • For the safety, provision and comfort of those who fled this latest attack and are now stranded in forests; pray that they will be able to return to a safe IDP camp soon
  • For the protection of believers across Myanmar, and ask God to strengthen their faith
  • For peace and stability in Myanmar, and a complete end to all hostility. 
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  • Every £32 could help encourage secret believers with discipleship, so they can be effective witnesses for Christ despite persecution and opposition

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