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Region Africa
Leader President Isaias Afwerki
Population 5 482 000
Christian 46.3%
Main Religion Islam/Christian (Orthodox)
Government Presidential Republic
Rank 6
Score 86
Previous Rank 10
Previous Score 82

“I do not follow my pastor. I follow Christ.”

The Eritrean regime is authoritarian and intolerant towards any form of association, dissent and free expression. The government’s attempt to control all religious institutions was particularly evident in the deposing and replacing of the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) in 2007, and he has remained under house arrest ever since.

The EOC itself persecutes those who leave the EOC and become Evangelical or Pentecostal believers. Government security forces conduct many raids that target Christians. Christian materials are taken, and some house churches also damaged in the process. During the World Watch List reporting period, hundreds of Christians were taken to detention centres. A Christian mother also died in detention. More than 10 Christians leaders are still languishing in government prisons under atrocious conditions. It is reported that there are thousands of prisoners of conscience in Eritrean prisons and Christians are among them.

Since the late 1990s, Open Doors has strengthened believers in Eritrea through strategic partnerships with the local Church. Open Doors encourages Christians in the region through raising awareness and prayer, encouraging positive engagement on behalf of the Church, and practical assistance to persecuted Christians.

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