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Eritrean Women Condemn Seizure of Catholic Church Clinics in Eritrea


The Eritrean Women Coalition strongly condemns the arbitrary seizure of the Catholic Church owned and run health facilities in Eritrea.

As part of its broader efforts of dismantling institutions and schools owned by religious organizations, the Eritrean regime has reportedly seized 29 health facilities that provide services to all Eritrean people specially women and children (specifically in rural areas), who could not access the state-run hospitals. The regime’s unlawful and unjust decision echoes its long history of arbitrarily and falsely detaining and accusing its citizens of religious extremism.

“There was no justification for the actions of the regime. It punishes those who are taking care of the poorest of the poor. Most of the patients weren’t Catholics, but Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and members of other religions. Many facilities are located in remote areas.” Father Mussie Zerai.                          

The health facilities, managed and financed by the Catholic Church, have been serving the rural areas with little to no fees. The availability of these lone health facilities has made it easy for many Eritreans specially women in rural areas to access basic healthcare services. The closing down of these health facilities is bound to adversely impact the communities they served. Nuns have played a central role in providing the much-needed healthcare services for every Eritrean people, especially to women and children, where the state has failed, and taking care and looking after many orphanage children. In a country where there are only 6 doctors per 100,000 (WHO, Eritrea), the health facilities managed by the Catholic Church has served as a partner, serving the population with no discrimination. In the process of seizing the facilities, Nuns who served as nurses, were seen to be forcibly removed from the health facilities by soldiers and doors closed behind them.

We, as Eritrean Women Coalition in the diaspora advocating for the rights of all Eritrean women, are asking about the fate of all patients escorted out of the health facilities, the devoted Nuns, Priests and heath staff who served those communities. We are demanding the lawlessness to be put to a stop and the rogue Government of Eritrea to be held accountable for its actions.

Eritrean Women Coalition
13th July 2019
Email: ewcc18@gmail.com

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  • Berhe Y

    Dear EWC,

    I think your statement is timely and your message is clear. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of Eritrean women and children.

    However, I don’t think your letter (is it open letter, is it press release) I am not sure it’s done to the best way to reach wider audiance and amount pressure to the regime.

    The only person who is quoted in this press release is father Mussie and he is not a women, although there is nothing wrong to quote him.

    I think there should be someone (a women) from EWC that should be quoted in the press release who represents the group..spokes person, chair, who ever that associates this coalition to person/s.

    If for example this story is picked up by other media or human rights organization, who they actually need to contact that can speak about this? I guess they can send email and they try their luck.

    This is not a criticism but what’s the objective of this press release if it doesn’t get picked up and talked about so to bring awareness or pressure to the regime? Press release for the sake of press release??


  • Hope

    Hello all:
    “የኤርትራው ገዢ ፓርቲን እና ህወሓትን ለማስታረቅ ያለመ ውይይት ትላንት በመቀለ ተካሂዷል”
    Who is mediating?
    DW(Voice of Germany).
    Fake news,a wish or distraction?

    • Selam Hope,

      I do not think that it is a fake news. I have heard it in the past. There seems to be a rich woyane who is doing his best to bring the two (tplf and pfdj) together as in the past. In my opinion this is tplf’s plan B, i.e., looking for the frog that will carry it to the opposite side, in these difficult times for its future existence. The person (the group) says that they are one people, they have worked together in the past and they can do it again, but he never tells the sinister thing about it that they have a diametrically opposite plan and interest, and eritrea will come out of it a big loser.

      Look how tplf tried to explain the last killings in bahr-dar and addis, that ADP is responsible for both killings and it should apologize to the ethiopian people. In addition, tplf finds difficult to work with the amhara party. Still worse, getachew reda seems to have said that he can’t sit with the deputy pm and head of the amhara state.

      What does it show. The known story. Tplf thought that adp, which lost its top officials, is at its weakest point, and its opportunistic and deceitful nature made it to sting and exploit the situation by attacking adp. There is nothing under the sun it would not do in order to survive and come back, if possible, to a hegemonic power in ethiopia. Tplf was condemned by some of its own people, that it tried to exploit the painful situation of the amhara people and the people of ethiopia in general. It has become a foreign body in the ethiopian political landscape. It has excluded itself and unfortunately, it is excluding the people of tigray as well from the rest of ethiopians. It is trying to revive an alliance that it betrayed in the past. What it needs is not opportunistic alliances, but to reform itself and apologize to the ethiopian people for its evil actions that has brought the country to the precipice,. Generation of ethiopians will live in suspicion and uncertainty thanks to tplf’s poisonous plan for ethiopia. It is not only about the alliance, but much more it is about tplf’s nature that eritreans should worry about.

      • Gebrel

        What the hell does have to do with the closure of clinics and hospitals by the bloodthirsty dicatatore and Pol Pot of Eritrea ?

      • Hope

        Selam Horizon:
        I know about the Tigreyan Millionaire’s initiative, which was said to be DEAD on arrival.
        Am all for peace as we are SICK TIRED of the endless destructive competition of those two unpopular rotten Fronts.
        But the wounds,the animosity and mistrust between the two peoples are also so
        fresh and damaging,it will take time …..
        The latest gossip I heard is that the TPLF sent 30 well trained elite commando as civilians to assassinate top PFDJ Leadership and or target major security apparatus but 27 of them were caught and exposed all the TPLF deadly plans and details against the IA Regime,the reason why the regime was panicking and closed suddenly the borders.(Very convincing narrative though)!
        There is a reason why the digital weyane is propagating its toxic propaganda implicating as if IA was responsible for the death of the Tigreyan Generals!

        • Amanuel

          Hi Hope
          What is the matter with you? You became 03 propagandist again. One step forward then two step backwards. I was expecting you to head YZ call and organise some sort of press release with you peers (health professionals) to stand up to the cruel regime.

    • Blink

      Dear hope
      It is just a weyane gossip nothing more nothing less . TPLF plan was always to crush Eritreans by producing war lords based on Ethnicity. The gossiping is spewed by ESAT and ze Habesha journalists all over the net .

      It was always dead as you said on arrival.

  • Brhan

    Dear Awate,

    Thank you for following the current issue of Eritrea.

    The regime did close the clinics because it can’t arrest the brave religious leader who showed their defiance to the regime from the country that we have seen recently. It knows if it did , it would be hazardous to its place internationally , where it will face strong diplomatic challenge from the Vatican. So the regime, like mafia goes after the beloved ones of the defiant ones and in our case are the Eritrean people who were benefiting from these clinics.

    The regime has arrested ordinary Muslim Eritreans, including teens without trial and under it has a policy of make them languish in the sick and die to get rid of them. The regime does so because it knows during these times of Islamophobia no one will speak about it , even prince MBS ( the custodian of the two holly cities)of KSA and the prince of UAE.

    The same goes with the Orthodox church where there is no significant world power to defend the abuses and injustices that are seeing to against its clergy.

    Thank you the Eritrean Women Coalition for your support to the religious leaders of the Eritrean Catholic church who are have become the voice of the voice less for Muslims and the Orthodox, too!!

    • Hope

      Selam Brhan:
      I agree with you and I JOIN you for your support to “The Eritrean Women Coalition in the Diaspora” for their brave solidarity with the Catholic Church of Eritrea.
      A little correction here:
      I believe,if I am correct, the mafia regime did arrest a Catholic Priest,the Director of the Catholic Printing Press(Francescana Printing Press)in Campo Stato-in Downtown Asmara,after the Press printed out and distributed the First in its nature Pastoral Letter of “The Conference of the Eritrean Catholic Bishops” titled” Hawikha Abey Allo-Where is Your Brother”.

      • Brhan

        Selam Hope,

        In my comment I am referring to the 4 Catholic bishops of Eritrea.


        • Hope

          Selamat Brhan:
          Got you.
          Well,he might try to jail one of them but it will haunt him bad.

  • Yohannes Zerai

    Selam All,

    Kudos to the Eritrean Women Coalition (in the diaspora) and its membership for their courageous stand! Once again, Eritrean women are standing up for the rights and the well-being of their people. By raising their collective voice on the issue, they have placed themselves at the forefront of mass action aimed at expressing outrage at the denial of health services to the most vulnerable sectors of our population, condemning the regime’s anti-people measures and manipulations and agitating for democratic change in our country.

    This, I believe, is a timely revival of the historical role of Eritrean women as vanguards of the struggle for political change and social justice; and it certainly represents a surge in their political activism!

    In contrast (and at least thus far), the utter silence of Eritrean medical professionals in the diaspora in the face of the regime’s widely publicized closure of 29 health facilities run by the Eritrean Catholic Church is not only disappointing, but really disturbing. Medical professionals — both those who are products of Eritrea’s Public Health System as well as those who built their entire careers abroad — are fully aware of the lamentable state of the squalid health services in the country. As such, the further deterioration of health services wrought by the regime’s dismantling of so many health facilities would be expected to enrage these professionals, and compel them to speak up and speak out against the regime’s action and in support of their people. Such a reaction, sadly, has not been witnessed todate; I sincerely hope that it will emerge in the coming days.

    Truth be told, some Eritrean medical professionals — individually and/or in small groups — have admirably been devoting their time, energy and resources to the cause of improving health services in their country despite serious impediments that the regime places in the way of their efforts. But many others have remained indifferent to the wretched conditions of their country and the plight of their people by opting to live in a bubble where they try to hide from their identity and humanity! It is time that they woke up from their willful slumber! A problem directly related to their careers/professions — and one that is bound to have a devastating impact on the country’s already-dilapidated public health system — ought to knock at the door of their conscience as doctors, as Eritreans and as human beings!

    Needless to say, we all must find a meaning for our existence on Earth that goes beyond the self. I humbly but passionately call upon all those brothers and sisters that are fortunate enough to have acquired the knowledge, skills and prestige that the medical profession has bestowed on them, to put a fraction of those multiple assets in the service of their suffering people who, in one way or another, had helped them to secure and enjoy those privileges!

    Finally, let us all draw lessons from the impressive and uplifting popular struggle that the heroic Sudanese people are waging for freedom and change: Organizing the respective members of the various professions into groups, and building a coalition of the multiplicity of such groupings would add another dimension to a popular struggle thereby ensuring its momentum and ultimate victory!.

    Thank you.

    • said

      I fully agree with you for complementing and indorsing Eritrean women stand and they are compassionate and caring part our society , they know the importance and value of health care service provided by catholic church to our people and especially for women and children .It is unfortunate to look at catholic church as “other” when they Other Within and part of us.
      The social and psychological rejection of Otherness constitutes a clear attack on the imaginal intelligence of the soul…one’s identity is split: divided into insider and outsider, worthy and worthless, above and below. That which is above we adore and aspire to [emulate], that which is beneath us we disdain and hold in contempt. This deeming quality of superior/inferior is the core of civilization’s method (i.e., conquest, oppression, and exploitation).- Daniel Deardorff, The Other Within