The leader of an Italy-based Roman Catholic human rights organization recently revealed that over 400 million Christians all around the world are living in countries that are increasingly persecuting churches.

Alessandro Monteduro, the director of the Italian chapter of Aid to the Church in Need called ACS-Italia, revealed that about 416 million Christians are currently living in "lands of persecution."

In a conversation with Vatican News, Monteduro described 2021 as "another year of pain and suffering" for persecuted Christians all over the world. He added that the estimate was at 416 million Christians who were being persecuted all over the world.

"I want to clarify that 'living in lands of persecution' does not mean 'persecuted,' but living in a land of persecution, however, exposes you daily to risks that may arise due to the behavior of the persecutors," Monteduro said, as rendered by Google translate, the Christian Post reported. He added that reports from charity agencies from the United States and Great Britain "tell of a tightening of their conditions."

When asked which areas of the world are Christians being persecuted the most, he said that there are "certain areas of the planet" such as the African continent where "the suffering of Christian communities is worsening" because of religious intolerance. He explained that all over Africa, there are "at least a couple of dozen terrorist organizations that have the ambition, from their point of view, to install caliphates in their territories."

Meanwhile, Monteduro also pointed to India, where violent persecution is also rampant because locals afear that Christian groups are trying to convert Hindus to Christianity. He lamented that there was "too much indifference to these tragedies."

Monteduro's remarks reflect the very same message found in the Persecution Trends 2022 report from the ecumenical Christian group Release International, which reported that several African countries, along with India and North Korea were regions "of growing concern" for local Christian Communities.

In 2021, the country of Burkina Faso in Africa saw local Islamic terrorists attacking churches and carrying out bombings, school burnings, and murders, and assaulting places of workship. Release International also named Afghanistan, which fell into the hands of the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew its troops in August 2021.

"In 2022, there is a very real threat of higher levels of violent persecution in Afghanistan," Release International CEO Paul Robinson remarked in the report. "Our partners tell us that Christians who are unable to follow the outward forms of Islam, such as praying at the mosque and saying the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith, will stand out more clearly."

La Croix International reported that this January, Pope Francis called upon the faithful to pray for those suffering from religious persecution. In his first video prayer message of 2022, the Pope described persecuting people for professing their faith as "inhuman" and "insane."

"Religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship [but also] makes us appreciate others in their differences and recognize them as true brothers and sisters," the Pope remarked.