World’s worst place to be Christian?
An Aid to the Church in Need staff member recently returning from the country called it “the North Korea of Africa”. As in North Korea, Eritrea’s Christians are imprisoned just because of what they believe and face harsh treatments while locked up – including torture. Many Christians have been jailed without trial or even formal charges. Sometimes they are arrested on the pretext of endangering national security.
Up to 3,000 Eritreans are still in prison for religious reasons, two thirds of them are Christians.
Not only are Christians unjustly imprisoned in inhuman conditions but churches are subject to constant pressure and surveillance.
The Eritrean Orthodox Church has been crushed in to submission.
After its head Patriarch Abune Antonios was put under house arrest in 2007, for refusing to excommunicate 3,000 members who opposed the government, the state imposed a layman as leader of the Church to ensure its control.
The Catholic Church has continued to maintain autonomy, resisting attempts to place it under state control – but the government still tries to subdue it.
Young priests and religious are being made to serve open-ended periods of military service – depleting the Church – and there have been attempts to confiscate Catholic schools and medical centres.
As it is illegal for Eritrean churches to accept overseas funds, we cannot reveal details about projects ACN is supporting without putting our partners in the country at risk. But we do highlight work we’ve been doing for Eritrean refugees in neighbouring countries.
Because of its repressive regime no less than a third of Eritreans have fled the country.
But your love is helping both those who have left and those in the country who remain faithful to Christ.