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The Eritrean government consistently claims that the freedom of religion is respected in Eritrea, despite the closing of all churches in 2002 except the Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches. In recent months, however, even these approved churches have come under pressure from the authorities. In January 2006, the government removed the patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and appointed their own person to the position. According to a December 14 report from Compass Direct, the government has now ordered that all of the church's finances be run through the government coffers. A December 5 order mandates that all tithes must be deposited into a government-controlled account from which priests would be paid. The government will also be restricting the number of priests allowed in each parish. The church leadership has reportedly agreed to these restrictions. Similar restrictions on the Roman Catholic Church are being rejected.

There are also reports that nine truck drivers working for the Christian relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, were arrested on December 4 as they were driving toward the Eritrean-Sudanese border. The drivers, most of them known to be evangelical Christians, remain in custody in Police Station No. 6 in Asmara. Last month, Samaritan's Purse was ordered to leave the country. It is the eleventh international aid organization expelled this year. Eritrean officials claim the expulsions are to protect the country from dependency on foreign aid.

Pray that these attacks against Christians will cease. Pray that Eritrean believers will be able to meet together despite opposition (Hebrews 10:23-25). Ask God to work in the hearts of those persecuting the believers so that they will come to know Him as Lord.

For more information on persecution of Christians in Eritrea, click here.

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

  • 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

    ...