Charity urges better protection for Christian refugees in Germany

A refugee woman walks through the caravan park in Frankfurt, Germany, Feb. 12. (CNS photo/Alexander Heinl, EPA)

An international charity has urged better protection for Christian refugees in Germany after church officials said many face abuse in Muslim-dominated camps and reception centers.

"We've heard much about the nasty treatment of Christians, and we're compiling a report to push politicians into action," said Rachel Marsuk, a spokesman for the Netherlands-based Open Doors International, which says it serves persecuted Christians worldwide.


"We've had questionnaires returned detailing how Christian refugees have been psychologically abused, physically mistreated and denied food. The scale of this problem has been covered up or played down," she said.

Germany took in 1.1 million refugees from the Middle East and Africa during 2015 and granted 476,000 asylum requests. German newspapers have reported rapes, beatings and robberies in the country's refugee centers, as well as abusive taunts against Christianity.

In a March 10 interview with Catholic News Service, Marsuk said the worst abuses had been reported in Berlin and other cities.

"It's essential churches help address this problem, especially since many Christian refugees are too scared to speak out," Marsuk told CNS.

"Politicians at (the) local and national level here have done nothing to help and don't want to hear about these cases. They don't see how religious differences have fueled tensions and led to persecution."

Stefan Forner, Berlin archdiocesan spokesman, said Archbishop Heiner Koch had discussed the plight of Christian refugees at a March 8 meeting with local officials. He said many camp administrators failed to grasp the importance of religious and cultural differences and had failed to act to prevent anti-Christian violence.

"Some people don't even want to talk about Christians, fearing Muslims may have a problem with this," Forner told CNS March 9.

"We need to help those dealing with refugees to understand the situation of Christians in Syria and other countries of origin and be aware of the potential hazards of putting all the refugees together. When something bad happens, it must have consequences and not be hushed up," he said.

Several Christian communities in Germany have provided special facilities for Christian refugees, although politicians and church leaders have resisted calls for refugees to be separated on religious and ethnic lines.

Patrick Nicholson, spokesman for the church's Vatican-based Caritas Internationalis, told CNS March 9 Christians made up only a small minority of refugees in Europe, adding that he had read about Christians being thrown off boats in the Mediterranean Sea but doubted widespread discrimination.

The German-language Kathpress news agency reported a Catholic priest from Congo, Father Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende, who ministered in the Munich Archdiocese after gaining political asylum in Germany, had been forced to leave his parish in the face of "racial slurs and threatening letters," despite a support petition by more than 40,000 Catholics.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.


The latest from america

The film cuts through that numbness, painting a mural of human emotion where media portrayals of violence offer only a drop of splattered paint.
Emma Winters November 16, 2018
Elaine May and Lucas Hedges in ‘The Waverly Gallery’ (photo: Brigitte Lacombe)
Two seasoned actors explore meaning and mortality in ‘The Waverly Gallery’ and ‘Thom Paine (based on nothing).’
Rob Weinert-KendtNovember 16, 2018
"So many ordinary people are suffering,” said Father Cedric Prakash, S.J. He has spent the last three years working with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 16, 2018
The Catholic Church is failing to engage Catholic women. The GIVEN Institute is trying to fix that.
Zac DavisNovember 16, 2018