Authorities passed the halfway mark in the task of licensing churches in Egypt on 12 April when 82 new registrations were approved.
The granting of the 19th batch of licences brings the number of churches and affiliated service buildings granted official recognition to 1,882 out of the original 3,730 that applied more than four years ago.
It leaves a total of 1,848 churches still waiting to be granted licences under the Law for Building and Restoring Churches, introduced in September 2016.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, who heads the Cabinet-level committee set up in 2017 to oversee the licensing task, urged the authorities involved to swiftly clear the backlog of unregistered buildings. Progress was slowed last year when the Covid-19 crisis forced the committee to take a five-month break.
A number of churches were already licensed before the new law was brought in. It is illegal to worship in an unlicensed church building, but until the committee began work in early 2017 it was extremely difficult to obtain a licence.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org