Thousands Left Without Medical Care After Eritrea Shuts Down All Catholic-Run Healthcare Facilities

Protesters gather to protest the arrest of religious minorities in Eritrea in this undated screenshot. | (Screenshot: YouTube.com/Tearstojoyministries.org)

The Catholic Church is accusing the Eritrean government of shutting down all Catholic-run health care facilities, leaving thousands without access to medical care.

The Eritrean Catholic Church sent a letter to the ministry of health condemning the closure of its health centers in the East African nation, the BBC reports, as crackdowns against Christianity and other minority religions continue.

The Catholic Church, which operates as many as 22 health centers in Eritrea, accused the government of ordering patients to go home and deploying soldiers to monitor the facilities.

Additionally, the Catholic News Service has reported that government officials asked administrators at church facilities to sign documents approving the handover of properties before the closures. Many of the Catholic health facilities in Eritrea are located on the properties of monasteries.

“The government can say it doesn’t want the services of the Church but asking for the property is not right,” the letter reads.

According to the BBC’s Tigrinya’s Teklemariam Bekit, analysts believe that the closure of the health centers is a retaliation for the church’s call for reform issued in April and could leave thousands of people in rural areas without the quality medical care they need.

Critics say that government-run health care is less accessible and of a lower standard.

Bekit also reports that the Catholic Church’s letter compared the Eritrean government, which has been led by President Isaias Afwerki since the country’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993, to a former Marxist regime that prevented access to convents, schools and health facilities in 1982.

Eritrea ranks as the seventh worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith