Barnabas provides sanctuary for abused Christian women from Eritrea


“Christian women from Eritrea are considered worse than animals by these Muslim traffickers who don’t have any qualms about abusing or even killing them.”

Barnabas Aid partner

Barnabas Aid is helping Christian women from Eritrea who have suffered horrendous physical and sexual abuse at the hands of people traffickers in their desperate flight from persecution.

We are funding a new ministry, a sanctuary in Israel to help Christian women recover and rebuild their lives after suffering extremely traumatic experiences both in Eritrea and during their arduous escape through Egypt and across the Sinai desert.

They have to put themselves in the hands of people-smugglers, and many are taken hostage for ransom by Bedouin Muslim nomads in the deserts of Sinai. Christian women are often subjected to severe beatings and sexual assault.

Our partners who are setting up the sanctuary in Israel said:

Over the last year there has been an increase in the number of Eritrean refugee women who have been victims of rape and sexual violence during the flight through the Sinai desert; they all have emotional and psychological struggles as well as financial and practical problems that impact negatively on their ability to overcome the double trauma of displacement and abuse.

The sanctuary is a multi-purpose centre that will provide the women with emotional and spiritual support, as well as helping them to overcome their practical difficulties. It will offer health services, employment advice and educational opportunities, including language and basic skills classes, plus other facilities.

Refugees cannot get work permits, so their employment options are very limited. The Eritrean Christians often have the added burden of repaying loans to family members who paid the Bedouin to get them across the border into Israel.

One such woman, “S”, aged around 19, was abducted and sold to Bedouin traffickers who beat her so severely that she is now permanently disabled, and subjected her to extreme sexual violence that left her with gynaecological infections. Her mother borrowed the $15,000 demanded for S’s release from various friends and contacts, and now S has to work very long hours – ignoring medical advice about the kind of work she should do – to repay the debt. S was very distressed when she lost her job, but our partners in Israel were able to help her find alternative employment and cover her rent to stop her from being evicted.

Relief for prisoners

Eritrea is one of the worst places in the world to be a Christian; thousands are believed to be imprisoned without trial in the country’s notoriously cruel detention system.

Many Eritrean Christians flee to Egypt with the aim of crossing its border into Israel, but hundreds end up in Egyptian prisons, where they are held in poor conditions, are denied access to healthcare and suffer malnutrition and abuse.

Barnabas is also helping them. We are providing essentials for hundreds of Christian prisoners, including food, medicine, clothing, toiletries and baby food for infants. Our partners in Egypt also help to meet their spiritual needs, running Bible studies in prison for the Eritrean believers. We cover legal fees to help Christians get out of prison; between April 2011 and April 2012, 24 Christians were freed because of financial support from Barnabas Aid. And we provide accommodation for those who have been released and have nowhere to go.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, Barnabas Aid’s International Director, said:

Eritrean Christians face danger at every turn and the suffering they endure is unimaginable. It is a great privilege for Barnabas Fund to be able to help relieve their pain, and we pray that this new sanctuary will be a means of physical, spiritual and emotional healing for our dear Eritrean sisters who have been through such a traumatic ordeal.

Give Today

If you would like to help Eritrean refugees, please send a donation to our Eritrean Christian refugees fund (project 12-954). Donate Online using our secure server

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Eritrean Christian refugees fund (project 12-954).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference Eritrean Christian refugees fund (project 12-954).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/954 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

Please Pray:

  • That the Lord will bless and prosper the sanctuary for Eritrean women in Israel; pray that He will use it to restore them to health and strength in every respect.
  • For Eritrean Christians imprisoned in Egypt, that the Lord will sustain them physically and spiritually, and that they will swiftly be released.
  • That the Eritrean government will relent in its persecution of Christians so that they will not be forced to put themselves in such danger to escape.

Source:  Barnabas Aid

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