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Mother with her childThe total number of Eritrean Christians arrested since the beginning of May has now risen to more than 160. On May 26th, nearly 100 people were arrested. (To review VOMC's report on these arrests, click here.) Since then, many more arrests have been confirmed...and they include families with young children.

According to a ministry partner, 12 children (one as young as two months old) are now imprisoned with their parents. For the more than 30 children left without the care of their incarcerated parents or guardians, the country's security police are monitoring them to make sure they do not get support from the Christian community.

Since the implementation of a 2002 law, members of outlawed churches have resorted to meeting in secret at various homes. Unfortunately, these house meetings were also targeted by the authorities. Over the past 15 years, countless homes have been raided, and local sources estimate that hundreds of Christians are being held for long periods in Eritrea's prisons as a result.

Those imprisoned for their faith are released only after admitting that they've broken the law prohibiting Christians from gathering outside registered and recognized groups. Sources further explain that, depending on the prison head at each location, prisoners are asked to sign one of two agreements. Either they promise not to engage in unlicensed religious activities or they are asked to renounce their allegiance to Christ.

Those who refuse to sign can be held for years, even decades. Previous reports on the imprisonment of Christians in Eritrea, as well as informative video documentaries, are available at the Eritrea Country Report.

We ask for your prayers on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters in Eritrea. May they continue to remain faithful, even in the face of such intense pressure from governmental authorities. Pray that they will explicitly place their trust in the One whose love and promises are never failing (Psalm 33:18). As they lean heavily on His provision and care for their families -- and eventual deliverance from prison -- may they be further strengthened and encouraged to declare their relentless love for the Master of this vast universe who has the final authority over all.

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