Britain has commissioned an independent review into the persecution of Christians to find practical steps to support followers of a religion that it said has been subject to a dramatic rise in violence worldwide.
Some 215 million Christians worldwide faced persecution for their faith last year, it said, with Christian women and children particularly vulnerable and often subject to sexual violence as a result of their beliefs.
Last year, on average, 250 Christians were killed very month because of their faith, it said.
'So often the persecution of Christians is a telling early warning sign of the persecution of every minority,' Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Wednesday.
'Today I have asked the Bishop of Truro to look at how the British government can better respond to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
'We can and must do more.'
The review will map Christian persecution in key countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, analyse British support and recommend a comprehensive policy response, the government said.
The Bishop of Truro is Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, who was until recently the head of Church Mission Society with a wide experience of international Christianity. He said: 'This is a vital piece of work and I'm honoured to be able to serve persecuted Christians around the world in this way.'
Among the high-profile victims of anti-Christian persecution is Asia Bibi from Pakistan, who has been cleared of blasphemy charges after years in prison but who still faces death at the hands of vigilantes. The British government is believed to have declined to offer her asylum.
Addtional reporting by Reuters.