// World Watch List


  • More than 200 million believers in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith
  • Over 3,000 Christians have been killed for their faith in the 2018 reporting period, more than twice as many as in the previous reporting period.
  • Each of the top 11 World Watch List countries are now classed as places of extreme persecution – this is more countries than ever before in 26 years of the World Watch List
  • Libya has returned to the top ten
  • Eritrea has moved up from ten to six
  • India has risen from 15 to 11
  • Egypt has moved from 21 to 17

North Korea is number one again, but only just

For the 17th consecutive year North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian. But, tragically, other countries are catching up: only three persecution points separate the top three countries – North Korea, Afghanistanand Somalia.

Hindu and Buddhist Nationalism is sweeping across Asia

The rise in Hindu nationalism in India has spilled over into Nepal, which has leapt into the list at number 25. Buddhist nationalism drives much of the persecution in Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Islamic State is moving home

As it is driven from Syria and Iraq, the so-called Islamic State (IS) has sought new homes. In the Middle East IS fighters have sought refuge in Turkey, Egypt and Libya. But IS support is also rising in Bangladesh. In the Philippines an IS-inspired group took over the city of Marawi, especially targeting the Christians.

Radical Islam is taking root in Africa

While violent jihadists continue to attack Christians in places like Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria, many Muslim majority countries are legitimising more radical models of Islam. The result is that believers in places like Sudan, Somalia and Tunisiahave virtually no space to express their faith.

Women are easy targets

Gender-based violence continues to be a weapon of choice among Christian persecutors. Rape, abduction and forced marriage are frighteningly common in places like Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, CAR and even Kenya and India.

Christians are caught in the crossfire of the Sunni-Shia conflict

The under-reported conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims is driving the fighting in places like Yemen and Iraq. But where Sunnis and Shias are fighting each other, the Christians suffer. They are easy targets, hated by both sides.

Good news

Despite all this, there is good news. In some countries, like Tanzania, the situation has improved to the point that they are no longer in the top 50. In Syria and Iraqsome areas have been recaptured from IS and other militants, meaning that Christians can return to their homes.

Perhaps the best news is that more and more people are waking up to the reality of extreme persecution. The World Watch List is more than just a list – it will help you not only to pray for the persecuted church, but also to speak up for those whose voice is being silenced, and to take action to help those in need of love and support.

The truth is that the persecuted church is not merely surviving, it is active and alive. In these 50 countries – and many more – Christians are daring to demonstrate the life-changing reality of the Kingdom of God.

Join Open Doors’ secret network

But the challenges faced by these believers are increasing day by day – and they need the support of the wider body of Christ to help them stand firm and be a light to their nations.

In over 50 countries around the world, Open Doors’ underground networks are providing these believers with Bibles and Christian literature, theological training, emergency relief, trauma care, livelihood training and advocacy support.

Will you consider joining the global secret network that delivers hope and strength to persecuted Christians worldwide? Your regular prayers and gifts could make a real difference to Christians who are facing extreme persecution, enabling Open Doors to be there to support them for as long as they need us.