10

Eritrea

RegionAfrica
Sources of PersecutionDictatorial Paranoia
Population5,482,000
Christian Population2,741,000
ReligionsIslam/Christianity
GovernmentAuthoritarian Presidential Regime
LeaderPresident Isaias Afwerki
Score82/100

Eritrea

Eritrea: The North Korea of Africa. 
Eritrea is one of the most oppressive countries in the world to live as a Christian. Citizens do not have the right to freedom of religion and are denied basic human rights. Only officially recognised religions are allowed. The Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) has a long history in the country, but is heavily controlled and the leader of the EOC has been under house arrest for several years.

Many Christians have spent their lives in prison. Some get locked in shipping containers in extreme heat and many have died because of torture or neglect. The government is also known for supporting radical Islamic militants in surrounding countries.

A Refugee Crisis. 
Family life is under threat for Christians in Eritrea. Everyone between the ages of 18 to 50 must enlist in the army, regardless of religious views. If they do not enlist, Christians are denied access to higher education and employment.

Family members often go missing or are put in prison. Muslim converts are rejected by their families, denied inheritances and access to basic needs. The government has shut down almost all NGOs and humanitarian aid projects. Thousands flee the country, adding to the global refugee crisis and become easy targets for human traffickers. In 2015 a group of Eritrean Christian refugees were caught and beheaded by Islamic State extremists in Libya.

Unexpected Persecutors. 
There is pressure on Christians who are not from the traditional Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). Pentecostal, Baptist and Evangelical churches are not seen as legitimate and the government regards them as influences from the West and so a threat to the state. Persecution is severe for those who convert from Islam but also for those who leave the EOC. Christians are arrested for having illegal materials not from the registered church, and meeting with other believers or evangelising is out of the question.

"Forgiveness is vital. If we do not forgive, our relationship with God is hindered. As Christians we are required to love our enemies even though it is very difficult to do that when they make you suffer, or when they harm or kill your loved ones! Please pray that the churches in my country come to understand this forgiveness, and reconcile and work with one another. We thank God for the support of Open Doors.”- Esther, Eritrean Believer

Pray for Eritrea

Pray for prisoners and families of those in prison.

Pray for safety for Christians who remain in Eritrea.

Pray for unity across all churches and denominations.