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Eritrea Facts

Score: 86 / 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Dictatorial Paranoia
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 5,482,000
Christians: 2,540,000
Main Religion: Christianity, Islam
Government: Presidential Republic
Leader: President Isaias Afwerki

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 57%
Church Life 91%
National Life 97%
Community Life 94%
Family Life 87%
Private Life 91%

Where Persecution Comes From

Both the government and the cultural climate in Eritrea contribute to the persecution of Christians in this country in the Horn of Africa. President Afewerki’s regime is known for absolute authoritarianism. The arrest, harassment and murder of Christians accused of being agents of the West is commonplace. At the same time, Muslims, who make up roughly half of the population, are becoming more radicalized, resulting in increased vulnerability for Christians living in their vicinity. Conversion to Christianity is seen as a complete betrayal of community, family and the Islamic faith and brings on severe persecution. The Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) also has a long historical presence in the country and persecutes believers who leave the denomination.

How Christians are Suffering

In Eritrea, all Christian communities suffer from persecution, although the intensity and sources of persecution vary. Arrests and disappearances of Christians are commonplace, and they are often blocked from access to community resources. Christians from non-traditional church groups, especially converts, face the harshest persecution from the government, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Muslim community. The government’s fear of both radical Islam and Christian evangelicalism has led to the end of virtually all international work among non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as restricted entry for expatriate Christian workers. Many Christians are currently imprisoned for their faith, and many others have been tortured to death in prison, or died for lack of medical attention and outright negligence by prison authorities.


While the exact number of Christians currently imprisoned for their faith is unknown, thousands have been arrested and imprisoned over the years. We have reports of numerous believers being imprisoned for more than 10 years.

In 2016, reports surfaced that at least three Christians died for their faith: two men died of hunger and thirst in Maitre prison, and a 28-year-old woman died in the same prison from an untreated infection.

One thing is for certain, Christian persecution in Eritrea must end.

Pray for Eritrea

  • A great deal of pressure on believers comes from President Isaias Afewerki and his ruling government. Pray that this leader would find true life and fulfillment in Christ. Pray for God’s intervention in Eritrea. The local church does not pray evil upon their rulers but rather that there would be a change of heart.
  • Thousands of Christians have been arrested and imprisoned over the years, some of whom still remain in prison after 10 or 11 years. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters imprisoned under horrific conditions and that they might be lights to their captors in the midst of it all.
  • Pray for God’s abundant grace to those who are filling the shoes of imprisoned church leaders. Ask the Lord to equip them for the task of discipling their flocks amidst these difficulties.
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would comfort Eritrean refugees who have fled the country due to the high levels of persecution and violence.

Stories from Eritrea

February 21, 2018

13 Countries at the Winter Olympics Where Christianity Is Under Threat

During the duration of the Winter Olympics, remember to pray for Christians from countries on the World Watch List.


October 9, 2017

Caught Between Duty & Delight in Eritrea

We sat down recently with Ruth, a wife to an imprisoned church leader and mom in her 30s, in a…


September 29, 2017

Eritrea: When There Seems to Be No Light at the End of the Tunnel

In his early 20s, Shiden and 40 others were caught worshipping in secret.