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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 approved religious groups.

Today, more than 20 years after these laws were put into place, the persecution continues in this country which has been referred to as the "North Korea of Africa." Dr. Berhane Asmelash states that "Eritrea is like a giant prison...the country is filled with jails." The treatments experienced by those detained in Eritrean prisons have been notoriously cruel, and they include the frequent use of metal shipping containers to hold these prisoners who are forced to sleep on bare floors in the extreme heat and cold of the desert. To view a recent video interview with Dr. Asmelash, go to VOMCanada.com/video/Asmelash.

There are currently an estimated 220 Christian prisoners in Eritrea at last report. Most are believed to be Pentecostal or Evangelical, and many of them have been detained indefinitely – held for years without charges. The United Nations estimates that half a million people have fled the country thus far. Yet, despite the tyranny facing those who remain in Eritrea, Christianity continues to grow. For more information on the persecution of Eritrea's Christians, along with stories of those needing your prayers, go to our country report.

Prayerfully uphold all Christians throughout Eritrea who are currently being detained, as well as others residing in this repressive country who must worship God in secrecy. May His Holy Spirit work mightily within the hearts of the nation's authorities, leading them to repentance and the saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ. Additionally, remember those of our Christian family who have been forced to leave their homeland of Eritrea and are now challenged to live out their faith in other countries consisting of cultures that are frequently very different from their own.

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

  • 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.

  • Three Elderly Pastors Arrested
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael - Photos: Church in Chains
    Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael
    Photos: Church in Chains

    Three semi-retired pastors in the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested towards the latter part of July. Since they were all over 70 years old, and only occasionally conducted funeral or wedding services, it is unclear why these elde