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Photo: CSW

An Eritrean Christian woman has become the latest known prisoner of conscience to have died in Eritrea. Wehazit Berhane Debesai, who was in her thirties, died of pneumonia during the week of October 14th, following a year of imprisonment in harsh conditions. Despite the seriousness of her failing health, she was denied access to medical treatment for refusing to denounce her Christian beliefs.

Wehazit had been taking part in Eritrea's national service when she was arrested last year for her involvement in Christian activities outside of the government-sanctioned Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Lutheran church groups.

The young woman, who was engaged to be married, was then kept incommunicado in the town of Adi Quala, which is located near the Ethiopian border. Her death coincided with the arrest of about 70 Christians at a prayer gathering in Asmara, the country's capital. To view a 10-minute video clip documenting the dire situation facing thousands of Christians in Eritrea, click here.

While we can praise God that Wehazit has indeed gone on to receive her eternal reward for remaining faithful to the very end, her loved ones are now greatly in need of His comforting presence, including her fiancé who was also arrested and imprisoned. Please lift up this broken young man and the numerous other Eritrean believers who are struggling to survive the torturous treatment of the prison guards and the inhumane conditions of the country's deplorable prisons/metal shipping containers. Ask the Lord to strengthen and minister in a special way to their distraught family members. In addition, may He somehow capture the attention of Eritrea's president and other governing officials so they will realize the seriousness of their crimes against His beloved children.

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

  • 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