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Eritrean women praying - Photo: World Watch Monitor www.worldwatchmonitor.org
Many Eritrean believers are compelled to pray in secret.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

The Eritrean government has released 31 Christians from Mai Serwa prison who were detained without charge or trial for years. It is believed there were 21 men and 10 women in this group, and that none of them were church leaders. At least two of the women were minors when first imprisoned -- one was only 12 years old (age 28 today); and the other was 16 (now 30). This action follows the release of 22 Methodist Christians from another prison in July.

Recently received reports indicate that a total of 54 believers are expected to be released, beginning with those who were imprisoned the longest. The reasons for the release have not been given, though it may be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who have been liberated, however, conditions remain. It is reported that these prisoners are not free to leave the country, and that property deeds were submitted as a guarantee.

Estimates pertaining to the number of Christian prisoners in the country range from 300 to 3,000. Many of these believers have been detained without charge for more than a decade. Some, such as those in the Mai Serwa prison, have been kept in metal shipping containers -- exposed to the desert heat by day and the cold by night. The remaining prisoners may also face beatings and torture due to the officials' attempts to force the renouncement of these believers' faith. A video report with Dr. Berhane from Release Eritrea will be released shortly. An excerpt is available at VOMCanada.com/video/release-eritrea.

Praise God for the release of these believers who have stood firm in the midst of extreme trials. May their endurance be a source of inspiration to other followers of Christ. Please pray that fellow Christians would come alongside those who have been discharged as they now seek the Lord's direction and try to readjust to life outside of prison after spending years in custody. Ask God to touch the hearts of Eritrea's governing authorities, in hopes they will change their ways and encourage true religious harmony in the country. Also pray that the Lord will continue ministering to the many Eritrean believers who are still imprisoned for their faith, as well as the family members suffering alongside them. May these incarcerated believers likewise be acquitted.

Country Information


6,147,398 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Tigrinya (50), Tigre (30), Saho (4), Afar (4) Kunama (4), Bilen (3), other (5)

Religion (%)
Islam (47.4), Christianity (48.8), other (3.8)

President Isaias Afworki (1993)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil, customary, and Islamic religious law

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Operation World

Pray for Eritrea

Ask the Lord to provide imprisoned Eritrean believers a means of escape and a place of safe refuge. Pray for Him to also work deeply in the hearts of the country's governing officials so they will grant His people the freedom to worship Him and glorify His matchless name. Mindful of their own human frailties, may these political leaders realize the need to make Jesus their own personal Saviour and Lord by accepting His gift of eternal salvation.


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Eritrea News

  • Twenty Years of Oppression
    Eritrean Bible
    Photo: VOMC

    In May 2002, the Eritrean government closed all unregistered churches and established legislation outlawing any religious community except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. Government oppression and control was strongly instituted, even within these

  • Christians Arrested During Prayer Meeting
    Several rusty shipping containers - Photo: VOMC
    Prison officials continue to hold detainees in cramped, unsanitary shipping containers.
    Photo: VOMC

    In mid-March, 29 evangelical Christians were arrested when Eritrean security forces raided a home prayer meeting in Asmara. According to reports, 17 women and 12 men were taken to the Mai Serwa prison

  • Fifteen Christians Rearrested
    Video: Kidane Gebremeskel Gedion
    Click to view video.

    Eritrean authorities recently arrested 15 Christians during a series of raids on their houses in the capital city of Asmara. All 15 believers had been previously imprisoned for their faith – some for up to 16 years.