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Church building
A church in Eritrea

In 2002, the government of Eritrea outlawed every religion except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. Since then, the oppression against other religious groups has been severe. Even those within the approved faith groups have been at risk of opposition, particularly if they are perceived to be in conflict with the country's authoritarian regime. To review previous reports on the persecution of Christians in this East African nation, go to our country report.

Recently, three Catholic clerics were detained, despite them belonging to an approved faith community. On October 11th, security agents detained Mihretab Stefanos, the parish priest of St. Michael's Church in Segheneity. The next day, Abba Abraham Habtom Gebremariam, a priest from Teseney, was also detained. Then, on October 15th, the Bishop of Segheneity, Abune Fikremariam Hagos, was detained at the Asmara International Airport after his return from a trip to Europe.

At last report, Abba Abraham was being held at the Adi Abeito prison, north of Asmara. The whereabouts of the other two church leaders are unconfirmed, but it is believed they may be imprisoned at the same facility. When the Catholic church inquired about the reported detainment of the bishop, authorities confirmed that he was in custody but they would not disclose the reason for the arrest nor his location.

While the motives behind the detentions remain unknown, Catholic bishops within Eritrea have repeatedly called on the government to end its authoritarian behaviour and govern more democratically. The ruling governmental leaders have been unhappy about these calls for political reform, which may have led to their recent oppressive actions.

Continue to prayerfully remember the many Christians in Eritrea who are presently imprisoned because of their faith in Christ, asking that each one of them will be sustained by God's strengthening presence and grace. May justice and democracy prevail in each case, including those involving the three recently detained men, resulting in their release from custody. Additionally, ask the Lord to touch the hearts of the country's governing leaders with His transformative love so they will come to realize the importance of honouring Him and respecting the rights and freedoms of all citizens.

 

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
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)

Leader
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

  • More Church Leaders Detained
    Church building
    A church in Eritrea

    In 2002, the government of Eritrea outlawed every religion except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. Since then, the oppression against other religious groups has been severe. Even those within the approved faith groups have been at risk of op

    ...
  • 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.