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More than sixty teenage students have been arrested and severely punished when they were caught with Bibles at a compulsory military training camp in Eritrea. In June, hundreds of grade 11 students were ordered to report to the Sawa military base for the summer. It is believed that, in September, they will be required to continue their schooling at the base rather than returning home. According to an August 21 report from Compass Direct, military commanders searched the conscripts' belongings on August 19 and 20, looking for Bibles. Sixty-two Protestant students were arrested, tortured, and put into metal shipping containers where they were subjected to no light, extreme heat, and limited air and food.

The latest arrests bring the number of known evangelicals in prison for their faith to 213, including seventy-nine soldiers that the Persecution and Prayer Alert reported on earlier this year, arrested for refusing to deny their Protestant beliefs.

While authorities deny any religious persecution in Eritrea, the government officially recognizes only four religions: Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran. For the 20,000 Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, many of whom have come from a renewal movement within the Orthodox Church in Eritrea, arrests, beatings and harassment from government officials has become increasingly common and brutal.

Pray that these students and others in prison for their faith will be released and that the escalating oppression by authorities will stop. Pray that believers will stand firm in their faith, in spite of the pressure to recant. Pray that they would witness to the faithfulness of God through their suffering.

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