Islamist extremists in Libya routinely intercept refugees, killing any Christians they find.
Two young brothers journeying to Europe from Eritrea described having to deny their Christian faith to survive.
Haben, 19, said: “The men come round with Kalashnikov and they ask you what your faith is. If you are Christian they take you away and kill you. They cut off your head or shoot you. This is what they have done to hundreds of Christians.”
5,000 people leave Eritrea every month according to the UN, flooding into neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia. Among those fleeing are monks and priests from the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Aid to the Church in Need is backing Church-run projects to help those fleeing.
Most refugees end up in government-run camps, but many do not stay, complaining about the oppressive heat and the poor quantity of food, and leave for other countries – despite the dangers of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
In the pastoral letter Where is your Brother? Eritrea’s bishops asked: “How much longer can this chaotic human exodus go on?… Given that so many of these stories end in tragedy, is there no other alternative solution?”