Aid groups estimate that nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani military in Swat, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan. Most of the displaced people who have fled Swat are in temporary shelter and the numbers of families arriving at the makeshift camps are increasing with each passing day. Swat Valley Christians are amongst the displaced people and are in particular need of assistance because of the discrimination they suffer in daily life and even now as refugees. Some families have had to flee the valley on foot as they had no money for transport, and they were unable to stock up on resources before escaping the war-ravaged area. Pakistani Christians, who are often poor day laborers, are particularly vulnerable in the mass exodus as prices of transport and products rise sharply.
Vulnerable Christians The local Christian community is socially and economically weak and often suffers discrimination. In some areas, government relief workers have forbidden Christians and other minority faiths from setting up tents or eating with Muslim refugees. Local Christian schools have dismissed their students early to make room for the displaced people, opening their doors to evacuated Christians because of the government attitude towards religious minorities. Taliban have increasingly put pressure on Christians and other religious minorities in Swat to live according to Islamic customs. Many Christians, fearing for their safety, have tried to blend in with Muslim residents in Swat by growing beards and wearing Islamic attire. Mano Rumalshah, Bishop of Peshawar, shared with Barnabas Fund how deeply distressed he was to see the desecration of a church in Bannu, NWFP, which he visited on 11 May. He said he could not understand why the international Christian community was not coming to the aid of Christians in the North West Frontier Province at their time of need. Have Christianity in Pakistan or it will be eradicated,? he said. There is widespread concern that Christians could end up having either to accept Islam or to face death. Barnabas Fund is seeking to provide aid for displaced Christians in Pakistan. Donations will be used to supply food provisions, including rice, flour, pulses, dry milk, cooking oil, sugar, salt and spices, and also soap for washing dishes and bathing. In addition, the money will be used for medical care and to provide drinking water and bottles, utensils for cooking and eating, and bedding supplies such as pillows. *Pray for all the displaced families who have fled their homes in Swat. Pray especially for Christians and other non-Muslim minorities, that discrimination against them in the refugee camps will cease. *Pray that the Christians will find strength and hope in the Lord Jesus and will be able to bring comfort to others. *Pray for the aid which Barnabas Fund is sending through the churches and for all the aid being sent to help the displaced people, that all who are in need will be assisted. *Pray that, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Taliban will come to know Him and that their hearts will be changed.