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The War Memory Square in Massawa - Photo: Wikipedia / Dawit Rezene www.world66.com/africa/eritrea/massawa/lib/gallery
The War Memory Square in Massawa.
Photo: Wikipedia / Dawit Rezene (c)

As Eritrea begins week-long celebrations leading up to their Independence Day on May 24th, efforts to prevent any sign of dissent have resulted in the detainment of more than 140 Christians. The arrests happened at a private gathering in the Mai Temenai area of Asmara on May 17th. Of those arrested, 14 were children.

Some of the detained Christians are believed to be in the Adi Abeito prison; others are still being held by police. Eritrea is ruled by a one-party dictatorship, and its human rights record is among the worst in the world. With recent protests in neighbouring Sudan bringing down the government, security has been strong on the streets of Eritrea to ensure no similar situation happens there. Contacts in the country say that the streets are filled with police and secret police agents to deter any demonstrations.

In further action to prevent protests, Internet access has also been shut down in the country. With only about one percent of the population having Internet access, the prevalence of social media is minimal.

When a peace agreement with Ethiopia was reached in July 2018, it was hoped that conditions might improve in this oppressive nation. However, there has been no progress in human rights seen by international observers. For more information on Eritrea, as well as ways that The Voice of the Martyrs Canada has been involved in reaching out to the Eritrean people, visit our country report.

Please pray for the many Christians facing oppression throughout Eritrea. Ask God to sustain and strengthen the hundreds being detained for their faith, along with those involved in this most recent incident. May He also work in the lives of President Afwerki and other government leaders, so that they too would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and respect the freedoms of their people.

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