Eritrea Facts

Score: 86 / 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Dictatorial Paranoia
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 5,188,000
Christians: 2,474,000
Main Religion: Christianity, Islam
Government: Presidential Republic
Leader: President Isaias Afwerki

Profile of Persecution

Violence 56%
Church Life 91%
National Life 96%
Community Life 94%
Family Life 89%
Private Life 88%

Horrific prisons and human rights atrocities

Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen an authoritarian brutal regime that rests on massive human rights violations. During the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces conducted many house-to-house raids and imprisoned hundreds of Christians in inhumane conditions, including small shipping containers in scorching heat. Protestants, in particular, face serious problems in accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the State.

In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end to hostility with both Ethiopia and Somalia. How that agreement will play out for the situation of Christians remains to be seen. This extreme pressure and state-sanctioned violence are forcing some Christians to flee Eritrea–often called “Africa’s North Korea”–and seek asylum.

How Christians are suffering

Christians are being forced to join the armed forces, and Protestants, in particular, face serious problems with accessing community resources, especially social services provided by the state. Individuals from non-traditional church groups, such as evangelicals, face the harshest persecution forms of Christian persecution. Both converts from a Muslim background and cross-denominational converts from an Orthodox background encounter harsh mistreatment from their families and communities.


In the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, government security forces have continued to conduct numerous raids on Christians and house churches and have arrested hundreds of Christians who are being held by the government in miserable conditions. Some have been discovered in shipping containers in scorching temperatures. This is happening despite the reported release of some 30 Christians in July 2018.

Thousands of Christians have been arrested and imprisoned over the years, some of whom have been detained for well over a decade.

Eritrea is the home of the Eritrean Orthodox Church whose Christian history is defined by the Orthodox Church. Therefore, other denominations—in particular, Pentecostal churches—are not regarded as legitimate. This exclusion leads to persecution on many fronts for non-traditional believers.


Pray for Eritrea

  • Thousands of Christians have been imprisoned in Eritrea over the last decade, some of whom still remain in prison after more than 10 years. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in horrific conditions, and ask God to give them perseverance in their faith.
  • Pray for President Afwerki, that God would work in his heart and reveal the truth of the gospel.
  • Tragically, the Orthodox Church in Eritrea sometimes acts as an agent of persecution against other Christians. Pray for cooperation among the Christians of Eritrea, that they would be one.
  • In 2018, Eritrea embraced an end of hostility with both Ethiopia and Somalia. Thank the Lord for this amazing development and that the opening of the country to the international community to lead to a great improvement in the situation of Christians.

Stories from Eritrea

March 13, 2019

11 Christians Killed Every Day for Their Decision to Follow Jesus

In the top 50 most dangerous countries for Christians, a staggering 11 Christians die for their faith each day.


January 16, 2019

The 10 Most Dangerous Places to Be a Christian

In the top 50 countries where it's most dangerous to be a Christian, more than 245 million Christians face persecution.…


July 2, 2018

On Independence Day, Remember the Millions of Christians Who Share Our Faith, Not Our Freedom

As you celebrate Independence Day and thank God for your freedom this week, please kneel in solidarity with persecuted believers…