Eritrea: Catholic Church speaks out over property seizures

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Eritrea’s Catholic Church has condemned the government for seizing and shutting down all of its health centres over the past week.

Last week, the single-party state began closing the Church’s health centres across the country, forcing patients home and deploying soldiers to guard the buildings. Twenty-two health centres have been closed, leaving thousands of people – most of them mothers and their children – without healthcare.

Church health centres closed

Eritrea’s government hasn’t released any statement giving reasons for the closures but analysts speculate the move is retaliation for the Church issuing a statement in April calling for political reforms in order to reduce the number of Eritreans fleeing the country for Europe.

In an open letter to the ministry of health, the Church says such closures would never happen in a country where the rule of law exists.

Christians often face persecution in Eritrea, which has one of the worst records for human rights in the world. Hopes that last year’s peace deal signed with Ethiopia would mark the beginning of improved rights in the country have, so far, proven to be overly optimistic.

The Catholic Church is one of only four religious groups allowed to operate in Eritrea – along with the Eritrean Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran and Sunni Islam groups. All other religious groups are unrecognised in the country and homes are routinely raided and devotees of unrecognised faiths detained.

Featured image: By Dawit Rezenè – http://www.world66.com/africa/eritrea/lib/gallery, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=462252

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.