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Church-run health centres shut down by Eritrea government

The Eritrean government has seized and shut down all health centres run by the Catholic Church, after they refused to hand over the ownership of the centres.

Eritrean government officials have asked health centre administrators to sign a document approving the handover. When most of the administrators refused to sign, security officers removed the staff from the health centres and closed them down.

Growing persecution

The government has yet to give a reason for this decision, but it follows growing persecution of Christians in the country, which is often referred to as the North Korea of Africa. Thirty underground Christians in Eritrea were arrested earlier in June. They were members of a Pentecostal church - an unregistered and therefore illegal denomination – and were arrested in three different gatherings across the capital, Asmara. A further 141 Christians were arrested in May 2019.

Police regularly raid the homes of Christians from unregistered denominations. Christians who have been arrested are often only released on the condition that they renounce their faith. Hundreds of members of unregistered churches remain in prison, with some held captive for over a decade.

One possible reason for this increased attack on the Catholic Church in Eritrea is as retaliation to a public call for government reforms from Eritrean Catholic bishops. Following the recent peace deal with Ethiopia, bishops co-signed a 30-page letter saying that the nation should come together and heal. They called on the government to make reforms that would stop people wanting to leave the country.

Keep praying for Eritrea

Eritrea is number 7 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Thanks to your prayers and support, and through strategic partnerships with local partners in Eritrea, Open Doors strengthens believers by offering practical assistance to persecuted Christians.

PLEASE PRAY

  • For continued wisdom for church leaders as they interact with the authorities
  • For the Lord's grace to all those who may be affected by the interruption of much-needed services of the health centres
  • For strength and resilience for Christians who remain in prison, and their families.