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Ghinda, Eritrea

On October 31st, security forces shot at protesters who had gathered in the capital of Asmara to express their concerns over the Eritrean government's latest plans for all schools of the country. In its longstanding strategy to transform all academic institutions into community or public schools, the government is now forbidding students from wearing any religious accessories or apparel, such as Christian crosses or Muslim headscarves. The schools were notified in September that these changes were to take place with immediate effect.

One of the Christian schools received a letter dated September 18th from the regional Minister of Education, ordering the school leadership "to close the school and report to the (regional administration) a list of all the students." The official responsible for the letter also cited a 1995 government declaration, stating that all social activities -- including those of the country's private schools, clinics and orphanages -- are to be government-controlled. Furthermore, the letter stated that religious organizations should be restricted to the spiritual well-being of its own members.

It has been 15 years since the government introduced a law prohibiting Christian practice outside of an approved religious community. The severity of persecution being experienced by evangelical believers in Eritrea is revealed in this previous report.

As the Eritrean government implements these new restrictions for all schools, pray that the imposed changes will not discourage the students' faith. May their representing families be granted wisdom so they can appropriately respond to this situation in a way that is reflective of the righteous, loving God whom they serve. We're also mindful to uphold any students or fellow citizens who may have suffered harm as a result of the recent shooting of protesters. May they not lose hope, but rather -- with the Lord's help, strength and enabling -- persevere with unwavering faith and a greater sense of commitment to the cause of Christ.

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