ASMARA, Eritrea — Fifteen Christians imprisoned for their faith, but released to stem the spread of COVID-19, have been reincarcerated in Eritrea, according to a Barnabas Fund report.
The 15 were taken to Mai Serwa maximum security prison in Asmara, Eritrea, following raids on their homes. Most were men and already had been in prison five or six years for their faith. Some had served as long as 16 years before being released in September 2020, stated Barnabas Fund.
This action followed the arrests in July 2021 of two pastors in their 70s — Girmay Araia and Samuel Gebrewleldi. No reason was given for their arrests. Both are incarcerated at Asmara Second Police Station, reported Barnabas Fund.
An estimated 160 Christians are imprisoned in Eritrea, often in brutal conditions, Barnabas Fund reported.
Since religious registration was introduced in 2002, only three Christian denominations — Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Lutheran — are legally permitted to exist. Sunni Islam also is allowed, Barnabas Fund noted.
Eritrea is No. 6 on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.