World Watch Ranking: 6

How many Christians are there in Eritrea?

Almost half of Eritreans are Christians – 2.6 million from a population of 5.4 million – but Christians who aren’t from state-approved denominations face extreme persecution.

What does persecution look like in Eritrea?

Christians from non-traditional denominations face the harshest persecution in Eritrea, both from the government and from the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). The EOC, the Catholic church and the Lutheran church are the only Christian denominations recognised by the government, and are tightly controlled by those in power.

Government security forces monitor phone calls, scrutinize activity and conduct countless raids which target Christians, seize Christian materials and damage house churches. Christians can be arrested and imprisoned without trial. Many Christians are held in inhumane prisons because of their faith, and their loved ones often do not know where they are or even if they are still alive. In June 2020, the UN reported that there was no meaningful progress to address human rights violations in Eritrea.

Non-EOC Christians and Christians from a Muslim background face extreme opposition from their families and communities and from the state, often being denied crucial social services and other resources.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Protestants, and Christians from denominations other than the Eritrean Orthodox Church, are particularly vulnerable to persecution. Christians from a Muslim background are also very vulnerable.

Meet "Musse"

“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelize. Of course, it is forbidden to do it openly, but we did it at night when everybody was asleep. But people in prison are passing through different frustrations and depression. Those people loved what we taught and shared. Some of them even tried to cover for us. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!”


What has changed compared to last year?

There had been hope that a peace agreement with Ethiopia would improve human rights in Eritrea, but there has been little indication of this – and unrest at the Ethiopia/Eritrea border in fall 2020 has threatened stability. Violence continues to worsen in Eritrea.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Eritrea?

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

How can you pray for Eritrea?

  • Pray that believers’ faith would grow, that their love would increase, and that their faith would be steadfast in persecution and affliction.
  • Pray that Eritrean Christians and church leaders would have wisdom and opportunities to engage their government on the topic of religious freedom. 
  • Pray for those suffering terrible conditions in prison, held because of their faith, and for the Christian women and children whose husbands and fathers are in prison. Pray that the Lord would show His grace to these families and provide for their spiritual and physical needs.
a prayer for Eritrea

Father God, please protect Your children in Eritrea. Convict the hearts of those who persecute them, particularly those who profess to follow Jesus and yet still persecute His children. We ask that You would free Eritrean Christians from prison, as you did with the apostle Paul and Silas. 

Map thumbnail
President Isaias Afwerki

Population of Christians
2,552,000 (47.0%)

Persecution Type
  • Christian denominational protectionism
  • Dictatorial paranoia