Christians in Pakistan were forced to worship in the open air on Sunday after their homes and churches were burnt down by mobs last week.
At least five churches were burnt down and 21 more damaged during the wave of violence on 16 August, when thousands of Muslims attacked townships in Jaranwala, Punjab.
According to the figures from Release International, mobs torched 40 Christian homes and attacked over 100 others.
Churches affected by the violence belonged to different denominations, including The Salvation Army, United Presbyterian Church, Allied Foundation Church, and Saint Paul Catholic Church.
The Reuters news agency reports that over 100 people have been arrested in connection with the violence, which was triggered by claims that torn pages of the Koran had been found in the Christian district.
Chief Minister of Punjab, Mohsan Naqvee, has promised justice for displaced Christians and assistance in rebuilding churches and homes targeted during the rampage.
Release International’s partner, Rev Waseem Khokhar, expressed his shock after visiting the area under police protection following the attacks.
He said, “We don’t have words to describe the terrible destruction of church buildings, Bibles and everything in them. All we could see were ashes.”
The mob violence caused Christians to flee for their lives. They are now beginning to return but are arriving to scenes of devastation and are in need of basic provisions like food, water, clothing, bedding and financial support to repair their homes.
One pastor said his church building was destroyed and that he and his congregation have lost their homes.
Release International said its partners have already met the Inspector General of the police to express their concerns about the violence and are hoping to meet the country’s Prime Minister over the coming week.
They want more to be done to stop mobs from taking the law into their own hands when there are allegations of blasphemy.
“This latest terrible incident makes it clear yet again that it is the innocent who are blamed and punished when mob violence is allowed to rule,” said Release CEO, Paul Robinson.
“Time and again, we see Christians’ lives destroyed by false accusations of blasphemy. Extremists are looking for opportunities to attack the Christian minority and drive them from their homes, and we have seen repeatedly over the years that they are prepared to manufacture evidence in order to do so.
“This current allegation of blasphemy, like so many others, is unproven. However, the undisputed fact is that churches and Christian homes have been burnt down, and Bibles put to the torch.”
Release said the rampage may have been carried out in retaliation for the burning of Korans in controversial protests in Sweden and Denmark.
The organisation is calling on Christians in the UK to pray for peace to be restored to the region.