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Eritrean Christian, Mulu, holding a picture of her husband. - Photo: VOM US www.icommittopray.com
Mulu was arrested while attending a secret church meeting. Her husband died in prison.
Photo: VOM US

When a peace agreement was reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia, hopes were high that the new-found peace could also lead to a relaxation of human rights violations and religious oppression in Eritrea. On July 18th, the first flight from Ethiopia to Asmara in more than 20 years arrived with Pentecostal evangelist Surafiel Demssie as one of the passengers.

Upon arriving in the capital city, Pastor Surafiel held an informal evangelistic street meeting. He left shortly after and that was when police moved in. At last report, five people were arrested and others have gone into hiding. One of them, believed to be the host of the meeting, was arrested at the airport.

Family members were initially told that the five Eritreans had been arrested for blocking the street and would be released shortly. Later it was revealed that officials from the National Security Agency were responsible for the arrests. To date, those apprehended have not appeared in court. It is common for prisoners of conscience, including Christians, to never face formal charges, despite lengthy imprisonment under horrific conditions. For more accounts of persecution in Eritrea, go to the Eritrea Country Report.

As new relations develop between these two East African nations, pray for discernment to be granted to the Eritrean Christians. Specifically remember the five who were recently detained in Eritrea, along with hundreds of other believers currently being held in custody for their faith. May the Lord give great strength and courage to these innocent prisoners as they await deliverance, and a tremendous sense of His peace to each of their concerned family members.

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