The Problem

100,000 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus 
The Problem


Leader: President Isayas Afewerki
Population: 5.2 million (2.5 million Christians)
World Watch List Rank: 6

“We were so tightly crammed in that we could not sit properly, let alone lie down to sleep. We were forced to work long hours without rest. My immediate commander was especially cruel.”
Senet was put in prison, in a small cell with over 50 other women, for refusing to put the state before her faith in Jesus

The basics

The government only recognises three Christians denominations, including the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). Anybody who is believed to have criticised the government is likely to be severely punished – and following an unapproved Christian denomination is considered anti-government. This means that hundreds of Christians are arrested and imprisoned, including 141 in May 2019 and 30 the following month. Some have been held captive for over a decade; some are kept in shipping containers in scorching temperatures.

Half of the population are Muslims and leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal of their community, so converts from Islam face intimidation, threats and worse from their family. Many Christians would rather risk the deadly emigration routes via Sudan or Libya than stay in Eritrea.

Main threats to Christians

  • Government opposition
  • Government surveillance
  • Anti-Christian violence

The facts

  • Christians in non approved denominations are considered enemies of the state.
  • Followers of Jesus have faced beatings, imprisonment, harassment and torture.
  • Christians have been locked in metal shipping containers battling with horrific heat in the day and freezing temperatures at night.
  • Islamic extremism is on the rise, and radical groups seem well connected with country leaders.
  • Christians are looked at suspiciously, and the government encourages people to spy on followers of Jesus.
  • Up to 20,000 people, including Christians, are being held without trial or contact with the outside world for opposing the government.

Where is it?

Pray this

Lord God,
You aren’t just the God of Christians. You are God of all people and all places, whether they know You or not. Be known in Eritrea. Let Your will be done. Be with Christians there. I pray they would know Your love, so much so that you are known through the way they live. Give strength and perseverance to those in prison for You. Bring the church together to change their nation.

Other things to pray for…

  • For comfort for imprisoned Christians – some have been in prison for a decade. Ask that God will use them as witnesses to their captors.
  • For provision and protection for believers from Muslim backgrounds who are rejected by their communities and targeted by extremists.
  • For the thousands of refugees who risk the dangerous journey to Europe – especially women and children, who are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers.
  • Ask God to change the hearts of President Afewerki and his government and reveal Himself to them


Meet Eyal…

The good news: How we’re helping…

Open Doors partners with the local church in Eritrea to provide practical assistance to persecuted Christians, support Bible and discipleship training, and raise awareness and prayer.

Latest news and articles on Eritrea…

Click the Eritrea tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on the country…

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.