Crackdown on Christian followers as thousands flee the country
The situation in Eritrea remains dire with thousands trying to flee for safety and security. The level of state control over Eritreans' lives has contributed to a prison-like state for citizens, where there is no protection of or respect for fundamental freedoms. The security situation also remains precarious. Tensions continue to flare up along Eritrea's borders with Djibouti and Ethiopia as Eritreans attempt to flee on a daily basis. In late July, Eritrean troops allegedly opened fire on about 40 refugees trying to cross the border into Ethiopia.
A relative of Fikadu Debesay, an evangelical mother of three who died while imprisoned at the Metkel Abiet camp in early August 2017, claims that torture and mistreatment contributed to Debesay's death. Eritrean authorities arrested her and her husband in the southern town of Adi Quala as part of a crackdown on religious minorities in May 2017, when at least 122 Christians were detained for worshiping in unregistered churches. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported in August that:
"The number of Christians known to have been detained in desert camps and military facilities since May has now risen to 210".
On 5th July 2017, the European Parliament voted on a resolution calling for the immediate release of Dawit Isaak, among others. The Eritrean-born Swedish journalist has been imprisoned without trial in Eritrea for more than 15 years. Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland declared:
“We are going to push for an immediate release and to strengthen the relations with civil society groups in Eritrea in order to resolve the situation."
Despite repeated demands on the authorities from groups such as Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists, Isaak's whereabouts and status remain unknown.