(ANS - Asmara) - The Catholic Church in Eritrea has always collaborated and cooperated with the institutions. In the specific case of health services, the quality of the service offered by its facilities was considered by the government itself as an excellence of the country. However, in the months of June and July, twenty-two health centers managed by Catholic organizations were forced to close, and there is also fear for the fate of schools. But by depriving the Church of its works, it only damages the Eritrean population itself, especially the most needy.
The last Catholic hospital was closed on Friday 5 July: the sisters who ran the facility in Zager were forced to leave by the police and seals were placed on the doors. The nuns were told to leave the hospital immediately and were prevented from taking hospital equipment with them. Another 8 Catholic centers had already been confiscated between 2017 and 2018 in the name of a law of 1995 through which the State imposed itself as the sole manager of social works.
The structures is meant to become public, but, as explained to the foundation "Aid to the Church in Need" by a source close to the Eritrean Church - anonymous for security reasons - "there has been no transfer: the agents simply sealed everything, depriving the population of a vital service. The patients were of every faith; we Catholics in Eritrea are just barely 5%."
In this wave of confiscations, some have read the regime's response to the criticism of the Church of its government. In their pastoral letters, the Catholic bishops had called upon for deep political reforms in the country that currently has no constitution and has never organized presidential and legislative elections.
At the moment there is a strong fear of the fate of 50 schools, from elementary to high school, and over 100 nurseries managed by the Catholic Church in Eritrea. Greater certainty about the fate of the institutes may be had in September with the beginning of the new school year.
Eritrea, according to a report by the American NGO "Freedom House", committed to defending human rights, is a nation in a continuous state of emergency: "The restrictions and violations of fundamental rights, the prospect of a draft for an indefinite period in the form of a national service (armed forces) and the limited opportunities for work and education push thousands of Eritreans each year to try to escape from the country," Fr Mussie Zerai, priest of the Eparchy of Asmara and representative of the Agency Habeshia, said to the Fides agency.
He adds, to conclude: "I urge the international community not to remain silent, so that the drama of the Eritrean people does not fall into general indifference."