Campaigners warn that 100 years after the Armenian genocide there are still religious and ethnic groups facing extinction around the world.
Groups identified include Christians in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Christian Kachin in Myanmar. Each of these countries is listed on the 2015 World Watch List of places where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
Amnesty International says there is ethnic cleansing of non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslims ‘on a historic scale’ in ISIS-held parts of Iraq and Syria.
Genocide Watch has put Nigeria on its ’emergency’ list of countries at risk of genocide because of the threat to non-Muslims in territory held by Boko Haram.
UN and French officials have warned of the risk of genocide in CAR from the on-going conflict between Anti-Balaka (so-called Christian self-defence militias) and the mostly Muslim Séléka rebel coalition. The UN says violence on both sides is deemed genocidal in nature because victims are targeted for their religion with the aim of wiping out the opposition.
The Kachin Independence Army is fighting in a state of the same name with its majority Christian population pitted against the Burmese Buddhist government. Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 100,000 Kachin are displaced because of the fighting.
UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, said depriving people of their culture, their history and their heritage goes ‘hand in hand with genocide’.