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Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael - Photos: Church in Chains
Georgio Gebreab and Samuel Okbamichael
Photos: Church in Chains

Three semi-retired pastors in the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested towards the latter part of July. Since they were all over 70 years old, and only occasionally conducted funeral or wedding services, it is unclear why these elderly Christian men had been targeted for arrest.

Pastor Girmay Araya and Pastor Samuel Okbamichael were taken from their homes in the middle of the night for interrogation. Police intended to imprison a third pastor, Georgio Gebreab, but they found him sick in bed. This pastor has since been placed under house arrest until he is well enough to be taken into custody. Pastor Georgio previously served five years in a prison camp before being released seven years ago. He has been very ill for some time.

In June, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to Eritrea reported serious human rights issues persisting in the country. Special note was made of faith groups being detained without any charge or trial. In fact, some Christians have been imprisoned for many years without a trial. For more on the persecution facing believers in Eritrea, go to our country report.

Remember to uphold these pastors in your prayers, along with the many other Christians in Eritrea who have been wrongfully imprisoned because of their faith. Pray that, even in the midst of the country’s terrible prison conditions, the Lord will fill these believers with renewed strength, hope and endurance. Please also pray that Pastor Georgio will experience a complete physical healing. May the family and friends of those who are presently imprisoned turn to Christ for needed help, comfort and encouragement as they seek His divine intervention on behalf of their loved ones.

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