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A church in Eritrea
Photo: Flickr / David Stanley (cc)

Security officers raided the Faith Missions Church in Eritrea's second largest city of Keren on June 23rd, confiscating property and arresting a number of those present -- including pregnant women and children. The church has been operating in the country since the early 1950s and seeking registration since 2002. However, the government has outlawed any religious practice not associated with either the Roman Catholic, Eritrean Orthodox or Evangelical Lutheran denominations, or Sunni Islam.

Even those groups registered with the government are not immune to prosecution. Authorities seized and closed 21 health facilities run by the Catholic church on June 12th, potentially risking the healthcare of thousands in rural areas. The next day, five Orthodox priests were also arrested. It is believed these actions result from recent calls for peace and reconciliation by church leaders.

In response to the current increase in oppression, Daniela Kravetz, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea, released a statement on June 21st, saying: "These actions show that, despite the improved regional climate for peace and security, the human rights situation in Eritrea remains unchanged." For more information on the persecution of Eritrean Christians, go to our country report.

Continue in prayer for our oppressed and imprisoned brothers and sisters in Eritrea, asking God to give them strength and peace in the midst of horrific conditions. Remember the children who so often suffer without understanding the reasons for the difficulties their families face. Lift up the leaders of the country and, in particular, President Afwerki. May they turn to faith in Christ and work towards upholding His statutes so the people can be governed with justice.

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