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Eritrea

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These Eritrean Christian refugees are cared for at a sanctuary in Israel supported by Barnabas

Incarcerated in metal shipping containers with extreme temperature changes; forbidden to pray aloud, sing, preach or have a Bible; tortured to make them recant their faith. These are some of the extremely harsh conditions that thousands of Christians in Eritrea are experiencing in prison. Some have died under torture or because they were denied medical care. The country is ranked among the world’s worst persecutors of Christians.

The repressive Marxist government of Eritrea appears to have intensified its campaign against Christians in unregistered churches. At least 150 were seized in October 2013 at a single prayer meeting in Maitemenai near the capital, Asmara.

Most denominations are illegal in Eritrea. The government regards Christians as a threat to national unity because they give their ultimate allegiance to God. The state-controlled media characterises evangelicals as imperialistic groups that promote religious intolerance amongst the people.

In 2002 the authorities required all non-registered religious groups to register or cease their activities, but since then it has refused to grant any new registrations. The buildings of unregistered groups have been closed down, and their members are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without due process of law. Christians conscripted to serve as soldiers in the army can be imprisoned for attending prayer meetings and receive severe punishments even for possessing a Bible.

Only three Christian denominations are officially recognised, and they have to submit reports of their activities to the authorities every three months. The national leader of the largest group was appointed by the government, and his predecessor has been under house arrest since 2006.

Many Christians have fled to nearby countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt to escape persecution. Every month hundreds make the arduous journey across the Sinai desert to seek safety and freedom in Israel. Some die along the way; others are shot dead at the border; still others are taken hostage for ransom by nomads; and those who are caught may be sent back to Eritrea. Those who claim asylum in Egypt may be thrown into prison, while others end up in the hands of traffickers. They can suffer rape, harassment, torture, beatings or even slavery.

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    Daily prayer

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    • Give thanks that as believers in some areas of Egypt continue to be at risk of violence from Islamists, Barnabas Aid is able to provide various kinds of practical help for needy Christians there, especially those most affected by the political turmoil. We are supporting Christian families in Upper Egypt with housing costs, medicines, food and schooling for their children, and 30 Christian students who were on the verge of dropping out of education because of lack of money have received funding to complete their education. Pray for all those receiving this help, that they will also be encouraged spiritually. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Jul 2014 00:37

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