Thousands of sick people across Eritrea are being deprived of vital medical care after the government seized three hospitals, two health centres, and 16 clinics.
Government soldiers forced patients from their beds and out of the clinics and seized religious houses as they confiscated the 21 health institutes run by the Catholic Church, serving at least 170,000 people every year.
Sources close to the Catholic Church told Aid to the Church in Need that – unless the services were quickly resumed – people could die, with some walking up to 16 miles to access some of the clinics.
With the last of the week-long confiscations taking place on Tuesday (18th June), Eritrea’s four bishops condemned the action in a letter to Eritrea minister of health Amna Nurhusein.
The letter vows to refuse to cooperate with the confiscation program – which in a stroke has closed down all the Catholic Church’s health service premises, some of them dating back more than 70 years.
Calling the move “deeply unjust,” the letter states: “To deprive the church of these… institutions is to undermine its very existence, and to expose its workers, men, and women religious and lay people to persecution…