President Isaias Afwerki
Christians from non-traditional denominations face the harshest persecution in Eritrea, both from the government and from the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). The EOC is one of the only Christian denominations recognized by the government, and it is tightly controlled by those in power.
Government security forces monitor phone calls, scrutinize activity and conduct countless raids which target Christians, seize Christian materials and damage house churches. Christians can be arrested and imprisoned without trial. Many Christians are held in inhumane prisons because of their faith, and their loved ones often do not know where they are or even if they are still alive. In June 2020, the UN reported there was no meaningful progress to address human rights violations in Eritrea.
Non-EOC Christians and Christians from a Muslim background face extreme opposition from their families and communities and from the state, often being denied crucial social services and other resources.
“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelize. Of course, it is forbidden to do it openly, but we did it at night when everybody was asleep. But people in prison are passing through different frustrations and depression. Those people loved what we taught and shared. Some of them even tried to cover for us. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!”
There had been hope that a peace agreement with Ethiopia would improve human rights in Eritrea, but there has been little indication of this—and unrest at the Ethiopia/Eritrea border in fall 2020 has threatened stability. Violence continues to worsen in Eritrea.
Protestants, and Christians from denominations other than the Eritrean Orthodox Church, are particularly vulnerable to persecution. Christians from a Muslim background are also very vulnerable.
Open Doors works through local church partners in Eritrea to provide practical assistance to persecuted Christians, to support Bible and discipleship training, and to raise awareness and prayer.