by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Five Lao Christian families are still waiting to be rehoused after local authorities in the communist Asian country demolished their homes, International Christian Concern reports.
The five families are made up of 21 residents of Pasing-Kang village and Pateum village in the Ta-Oey district of Salavan province in southern Laos, ICC reports. A number of them were even forced to live in the forest for a while; all of them remain homeless.
Although local government officials promised to rehouse them, nothing has happened so far, ICC said. A member of the Evangelical Church to which the families belong said officials have told different people different things and ultimately rejected all inquiries.
“My family and I are still living in small huts in our rice field near the forest. We are still homeless,” one of the believers said in a statement. “According to the agreement allowing us to return, the village authorities are supposed to build us a new home, but they haven’t done anything they’re supposed to do. The village authorities now say they have to wait for the district authorities to take action,” the believer said.
In a website statement about conditions for believers in Laos, rights group Open Doors said the persecution level is very high. “Life is especially difficult for converts to the Christian faith, who are at risk of persecution from their family and the local authorities. This can involve damage to property, confiscation of possessions and issuing of fines,” Open Doors said.
Laos ranks 22 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2021 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted; believers in the country are especially vulnerable to persecution from local authorities.