India (MNN) — In response to the Hindu extremist violence in Orissa, India, Open Doors USA has provided immediate aid and relief while putting together a long-term plan through 2009.
Open Doors is working with many organizations to carry out the programs in this plan, and has formed the Orissa United Christian Forum (OUCF) to gather all Christian groups in Orissa under one common umbrella organization.
"Open Doors is committed to support our brothers and sisters in Orissa with a holistic approach — now and for the future," said Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller.
Approximately 5,000 Christian homes have been burned or destroyed, 200 churches ruined, and hundreds of believers injured in various attacks over the past two months. An estimated 50,000 Christians have been displaced by the violence.
"The government has admitted 40 dead, though we have details of 59 men and women mercilessly killed in the seven weeks of unabated mayhem," said Dr. John Dayal, member of the National Integration Council.
Orissa's chief minister confirmed that at least 10,000 people are still in government-operated refugee camps, and tens of thousands are still in the forests. Christian leaders are concerned with the unsanitary conditions of the refugee camps, and people are dying due to inadequate facilities.
"The situation is still horrific for Christians in Orissa," said Moeller. "Christians are still suffering from violence and terrible conditions in the refugee camps."
Open Doors has provided immediate assistance for persecution victims in the forms of medical and relief aid, research, counseling, and advocacy. Groups under the OUCF umbrella have partnered with Christian hospitals to assist in medical work and have networked with churches for relief distribution. Relief packets containing clothes, soap, rice, cooking oil and more were dispersed to over 600 families in the Koraput and Gajapati districts, and 23 children living in a hostel were assisted.
Organizations in the OUCF would continue these programs long-term, as well as provide legal assistance. The goal of the long-term plan is to reach out to traumatized persecution victims living in constant fear by providing them with basic needs such as food, clothing, medical care, and spiritual healing, so that a normal life may be restored.
To help suffering believers in Orissa, Open Doors is asking supporters to join an advocacy campaign. Participants can email the Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Ronen Sen, and ask him for adequate protection for Christians in Orissa, as well as justice and compensation for victims of the violence. Click here to send an email.