Eritrea - Women praising God - Photo: VOMC

Eritrea

Eritrea is one of the most secretive and isolated countries of the world. In 2002, the government outlawed every religion except for Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran Church. All other religious groups are illegal, and the government heavily controls approved churches. Years of Communism, required military service and economic depression have forced many Eritreans -- including evangelical believers -- to flee the country. Despite these hardships, the underground church in Eritrea continues to grow due to the faithfulness of church leaders both inside and outside the country.

Life for Christians:

Evangelical churches are highly persecuted and must meet secretly. The government actively seeks to infiltrate these underground churches and imprison their leaders. Over the past 16 years, hundreds of Christians have been imprisoned because of their faith. Approximately 300 believers are known to remain in prison. Imprisoned Christians are not given a trial, nor are they allowed to see their families -- many of whom do not know where their loved ones are located or if they are still alive. The conditions inside the country's prisons are some of the harshest in the world. Christian prisoners are provided meager rations, treated very poorly and, in some areas, held inhumanely for years within metal shipping containers amid extreme desert conditions.

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
6,081,196 (July 2020 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Tigrinya (55), Tigre (30), Saho (4), Kunama (2), Rashaida (2), Bilen (2), 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

  • 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

    ...
  • Recently Arrested Christian Prisoners Released
    Nakura prison - Photo: Church in Chains https://www.churchinchains.ie/
    Nakura prison
    Photo: Church in Chains

    Earlier this month, it was reported that 23 women had been arrested at a prayer meeting in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, along with 12 others in the city of Assab. (To review a previously posted report, go to our country report, where there is also a link to

    ...
  • 35 New Arrests
    Video: Interview with Andrew Boyd regarding recent arrests
    Click to view the video.

    In recent months, we joyfully shared the good news that dozens of Christians had been released from prisons in Eritrea (see our country report). However, any hopes that the string of releases signalled a change of heart towards Christians in the oppressive regime were dashe

    ...