By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Christians like this young Eritrean pastor can face persecution, rights groups say.

ASMARA, ERITREA (BosNewsLife)– Four religious liberty groups urged the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch, Wednesday, April 1, “to ensure that aid money” allocated to Eritrea “reaches and benefits the people of that country,”  amid concerns it may only reach “one of the most repressive” governments of Africa.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Open Doors International, Release Eritrea and the Church in Chains (Ireland), published a letter after reports that the European Commission may soon release 122 million euros ($161 million) through a  fund “despite being aware of ongoing human rights abuses in the country,” the groups said.

The letter was sent to the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, the European Parliament Committees on Development, and Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights, CSW told BosNewsLife.

“We are aware that by allocating this money the European Commission intends to strengthen administrative capacity building, infrastructure, and food aid among other things,” the groups wrote. “Please, be advised however, that all independent construction companies have been closed and conscripts are abused as cheap labor…it is by no means certain that the aid will be used in the manner envisaged by the Commission.”


In addition some 3000 Eritrean Christians “are currently detained in life threatening conditions solely because of their religious convictions,” CSW said. “Thousands of non – Christians are also detained without charge or trial. Military service is often indefinite with conscripts being used as forced labour in government development projects.”

It added that 75 percent of the Eritrean population are malnourished and the country is reported to be on the verge of starvation. “The government manipulates the distribution of food aid to strengthen its control of Eritrean society…The Government of Eritrea is one of the most repressive in Africa,” CSW said.

Eritrean officials have consistently denied human rights abuses.  However CSW’s Advocacy Director, Alexa Papadouris said rights groups are “now extremely concerned that the European Commission’s generous allocation of aid to Eritrea does not simply provide a financial lifeline to the oppressive Eritrean leadership, but rather alleviates the incredible suffering of the Eritrean people.”

Papadouris said that CSW and others “call on the European Commissioner to ensure aid is only delivered once the means of closely monitoring its use are in place, and that the aid is firmly linked to a marked improvement in human rights”.


  1. How sad to see religion being used as a tool of colonial politics. Where were you when the people of Eritrea were being decimated and were dying under Ethiopian thanks, I did not see any concern from you then, why now. If you are really concerned of squandering of aid, go to Ethiopia and investigate why, in spite of the billions being powered to the highest aid recipient in Africa, more than 12 million people are starving.

  2. Great step towards presurising the EU for planning to give its aid to possibly the most repressive regime in the world. Thank you for informative news. Keep doing your job despite some protests from non informed Eritreans despising your works. I am sure this aid is going to be used against the people if it is given. It will only prolong the suffering and misery of the people of Eritrea. EU is considered to be the champion of human rights but even planning to give aid to the Eritrean regime makes me sick. The mere thought of aiding this brutal regime by itself is horendous. Peace. God Bless Eritrea.

  3. Tyranny is killing Ertreans just as it killed tens of millions of Europeans under the Nazis and Fascists over two generations ago. EU should know that the Eritrean ideology of tyranny is a killer machine and quiet or loud diplomacy cannot disarm it. It hasn’t worked, and never will. With all due respect to EU authorities and especially to Mr. Louis Michel, here is what needs to be done as a matter of urgency. Countless lives are quietly being lost due to hunger and starvation and the EU should send emergency food aid and medicine without delay. For many emaciated women and children, relief aid will still have come too late. But such effort would attenuate the dire situation. The Eritrean government is as callous as Mengistu’s Dergue regime which imposed news blackout while at the rate of 2,000 people, mainly children, were dying every day in northern Ethiopia in the early 1980s. With regards to development aid, no thinking Eritreans can object to that. Their campaign is pure and simple: There is no real development without freedom, human rights and participatory democracy. Nothing is worth developing without these principles. Nothing.

  4. Simon you say where were you at difficult times of Eritrean people. The answer is we were in stragle against the accupying and known enemy who came to kill us and accupy our land. Every one in Eritrea men and women young and aged Christians and Muslims fought for the freedom and we thought we got it. Not long after celebration we found ourselves in a mess where there is no accountability. Barbaric inprisonment and torture became common the current so called leader wanted people who clap their hands around him, he cleared all innocent and transparent leaders who lead the stragle more or equal to his years in time and better in talent. Worest to quench his hunger of torture and killing started to inprison citizens who has done and doing all the required duties as citizens, he ordered their clearing merely for being dedicated christians. That is not fair. Anyway no one in Eritrea thanks the leader and his group unless he/she is beneficiary of the crimes committed. Aid for the hungry people denied by their oun government is ok but there should be a way where by EU or other donors moniter the AID reaches the target. The Aid will be sold in Mr Aforki’s shops “Dukan hidri”

    Thank you Stefan bos. Tseba Site.

  5. How many are detained in Israel? How many are KILLED in Israel?

    Are the Multi-billion dollars worth of aid being “firmly linked to a marked improvement in human rights” in the Israel and the Palestinian territories?

    What about the Ogaden in Ethiopia? Is the Africa’s biggest aid recipient doing well with the the funds that were supposedly meant to stop the current 12+ million from starvation??

    You have no care for Eritreans. Please do not try to fool us because it is you who is the fool!

    Awet N’hafash

  6. There is always a problem when it come with Religion,Freedom,Democracy,…These words are being used as ways of pointing your finger at someone who doesn’t entertain your sole interests.These are forged in the west and try to change governments. Those who thinks themselves as advocates of these ‘sweet words’, are those who are committing crimes against humanity.See Iraq,Afganistan,Palestine, and Pakistan,where hundreds are dying everyday. And now people start to talk about religion,freedom,democracy in Eritrea.The Eritrean government has been,and still is, a long standing respect in religion,but has zero tolerance with those who try to abuse it.And this CSW,a quesling, is just an instrument for distabilizing religious coherence in Eritrea.And let me tell you this,you can knock the doors of EU,but Aid is a supplement in Eritrea,not a subject.

    Eritrea Will Never Walk Alone

    Wetru Awet N’hafash

  7. I’m an Eritrean American currently residing in California, USA. Before I jump in and giving away my comments, I like to say few words about the government of Zimbabwe. One of the many reasons the government of Zimbabwe agreed a shared-leader ship was he knew that he could not get out of the mess his country was in unless he shared the leadership. That happened as a result of sanction put on his government by the EU, USA, and e.t.c. The people of Africa is fighting two wars: one an their own oppressive government and the second the Western world. If it was not for the Western countries, Africa would have been free from all their blood suckers, cruel, inhumane leaders. By giving aid to the government of Eritrea, the EU is not saving the people of Eritrea; on the contrary, the EU is saving the tyrant government of Eritrea and as a result postponing the change that should have been coming. So, if you want to save the people of Africa, or the people of Eritrea for that matter, EU keep your money in your pocket, and do what you did to Zimbabwe. My God bless you Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife. I wish you had made extra effort or protest against the money which will be given by EU, because every body knows that no money nor aid goes to the people except to the pocket of the tyrant government. Mike from USA.

  8. Stefan you are Idiot, now you want to block the Aid for Eritrea, to your disatisfaction, The EU trusts the government of Eritrea not idiot people like you. The Aid is approved. What has to do Aid and your so called religion. you are crossing a line.

  9. Dear Mekeret,

    It’s not up to me to say in a news article whether the European taxpayers money should be send to the Eritrean government or not. However as a reporter I am reporting different views on this issue. You may call that “idiot”, I would call it freedom of the press. The money has NOT yet been released and it is still under consideration.

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos

  10. Stefan, you have selective hearing or reading about Eritrea. What I mean is you like to hear or read bad about Eritrea. Once again, you are Idiot. EU has approved the AID.
    Give few years for Eritrea, Erietrea does not need any AID. That time you will see Gossip of religion will be history.
    Let me tell you one thing Eritrea is a proud nation.
    To your surprise the 3000 illegal religion may go up to 6000 or 10000 then you will continue to cry.

  11. Dear Mekeret,

    The European Union has NOT yet released the aid, and is CONSIDERING it. However if, in your words “Eritrea does not need any aid” I would urge Brussels to use European taxpayers money for other purposes. Yet, I think the reality is that Eritrea’s GOVERNMENT indeed “does not need any aid”, but many Eritreans need support at this point, for instance to start businesses so they can later provide for themselves. The issue that concerns rights groups is that the aid may go to what they consider as one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. With some 3,000 Christians, who you apparently describe as followers of an “illegal religion” in prison because of their faith, that doesn’t seem a surprising statement. If reflecting that concern amounts to being “an Idiot”, I am pleased to be one.

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife


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