(Reading time: 1 - 2 minutes)
Large church
A cathedral in Asmara.
Photo: Wikipedia / KH (cc)

According to a recent report, 44 believers have been arrested from private homes in Eritrea by governing officials since the beginning of 2023. The group – consisting of 39 women and five men – are being held at the Mai Serwa prison on the outskirts of the Eritrean capital of Asmara. No further details are available at this time.

In a separate case relating to three other Christian prisoners, diplomatic action from the Vatican likely played a part in their release. In mid-October, three Catholic clerics – Mihretab Stefanos, Abba Abraham Habtom Gebremariam and Bishop Abune Fikremariam Hagos – were detained, despite belonging to one of the few faith communities approved by the Eritrean government. (See this page for more details on their arrests.)

Father Gebremariam was released on November 23rd. The other two men were discharged on December 28th. News of their release came after videos emerged of the bishop being greeted at the Catholic cathedral in Asmara. While addressing the clerics' situation, Elizabeth Chyrum from Human Rights Concern Eritrea stated: "The arrest and subsequent release of the Catholic clergy provide a clear illustration, if one is needed, that permitted religious communities also experience repression. While [we] welcome these releases, we also recall that thousands of prisoners of conscience remain detained without charge or trial...."

While we thank God for the release of the three mentioned church leaders, please be mindful to prayerfully uphold the many Christians remaining imprisoned in Eritrea, including the 44 who were recently arrested. Ask the Lord to especially increase the fortitude and endurance of prisoners facing extremely difficult conditions. May He also work mightily in the hearts and minds of the nation's governing leaders, urging them to recognize and honour the rights of all Eritrean citizens.

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.


Select a Region

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