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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 camp on the outskirts of the capital city.

It is unknown what precipitated this attack. Since worship outside of government-recognized churches is illegal, most gatherings take place in private homes. However, each residential area is known to have government spies who report "unusual activities" to the authorities. The believers have not been formally charged and it is unknown at this point if they will be.

Over the years, Christians in Eritrea have been held indefinitely without charges, sometimes for weeks. There are also numerous cases in which people have been held for several years without charge. Compounding the unjust treatment of Eritrean citizens – many of them reputed as good standing and well-educated Christian leaders, conditions at the notorious Mai Serwa prison are noted to be overcrowded, unsanitary, and subjected to the country's harsh climate.

While addressing the inhumane treatment of Eritrea's prisoners, Amnesty International stated in 2020 that "no one should be held in conditions that can have disastrous consequences on their mental and physical health." The Amnesty report recounts numerous abuses, including the use of metal shipping containers – where beds and mattresses are not allowed – to hold detainees, forcing them to take turns sleeping on bare floors. For further information on the injustices being experienced by Eritrea's Christians, and/or to review previously published reports, go to our country report.

As you intercede for the needs of the persecuted, please remember these recently arrested Christians, as well as the many other believers who are currently being held in Eritrean prisons because of their unwavering allegiance to Christ. May these suffering followers of Jesus have opportunities to encourage one another to remain strong in their faith and to share the blessed eternal hope they have in Him with other prisoners. Furthermore, pray for their soon release so they can be reunited with their families.


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

  • New Arrests and Prison Releases
    Eritreans worshipping
    Photo: VOMC

    According to a recent report, 30 Christians were arrested in mid-March while gathering for worship at a believer's house in the Eritrean city of Keren. Unfortunately, no further details are available at this time. The recently arrested followers of Jesus join more than 400 other Christia

  • 44 Christians Arrested; Three Others Released
    Large church
    A cathedral in Asmara.
    Photo: Wikipedia / KH (cc)

    According to a recent report, 44 believers have been arrested from private homes in Eritrea by governing officials since the beginning of 2023. The group – consisting of 39 women and five men – are being held at the Mai Serwa prison on the outskirt