Christian Human Rights Group Calling for Withdrawal of Eritrean Troops from Ethiopia

Credit: CSW

The UK-based human rights foundation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), has expressed concern about Eritrea’s “heavy” involvement in the violence in neighboring Ethiopia and called on the international community to move swiftly to ensure that Eritrean forces leave the embattled Horn of Africa country.

Khataza Gondwe, Joint Head of Advocacy and Team Leader for Africa and the Middle East at CSW, says that the presence of Eritrean forces especially in the embattled Tigray is slowing down the peace process in Ethiopia.

“The continuing presence of troops implicated in the commission of the gravest of international crimes constitutes a clear threat both to the peace process and to the lives of Tigrayan civilians,” Ms. Gondwe says in a Thursday, January 5 report.

She adds, “We call on the African Union and the rest of the international community to ensure the immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia, including by formulating and initiating additional targeted sanctions and a comprehensive arms embargo, if deemed necessary.”

“We also call for the demobilization of conscripts, and urge the Eritrean government to end its military adventurism and focus instead on respecting and fulfilling the rights and freedoms of Eritrean citizens, ensuring that they are finally able to enjoy the dividends of their hard-won independence,” the CSW official says.


CSW has disputed reports that Tigrayan forces have pulled out of Ethiopia, noting that the forces continue to subject Ethiopians to untold suffering, including unjust detentions.

According to the Christian human rights entity, the recent detention of a Catholic Bishop and Priests in Eritrea occurred against the backdrop of atrocities in the country, and neighboring Ethiopia.

“Eritrea is heavily involved in the civil unrest in Ethiopia, and the arrests and subsequent releases of the Catholic clergy occurred against the backdrop of the punitive door-to-door roundups and forcible conscription of Eritrean citizens of all ages, which continue despite the African Union-brokered cessation of hostilities,” the human rights foundation reports.

According to the foundation, Eritrea is not a party to the peace agreement and its troops have also continued to violate the rights of Tigrayan civilians. 

“Although some recent reports have indicated that Eritrean troops have withdrawn from towns including Axum and Shire, others detail ongoing violations, including the murders of two young men by Eritrean troops in Axum on 3 January, while photographs continue to emerge allegedly showing Eritrean troops on the streets of Shire, the entity reports.

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Meanwhile, CSW and Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE) have welcomed the release of Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, the first Bishop of the Catholic Eparchy of Segheneity, and Fr. Mehereteab Stefanos, who, until his detention, was serving as Parish Priest of St Michael's Parish of Segheneity Eparchy.

On October 15, security agents arrested Bishop Tsalim at Asmara international airport after arriving from Europe.

The Clergymen were released on December 28, with several videos emerging of the Bishop returning to the Eparchy. Abba Abraham Habtom Gebremariam, the Assistant Parish Priest in charge of students at the Capuchin Society, was released a month earlier on 23 November 2022.

Lauding the release, the Director of HRCE, Elizabeth Chyrum, has, however, called on the Eritrean authorities to set free everyone who has been subjected to lengthy and unjust arbitrary detention in the Northeastern African country.

“The arrest and subsequent release of the Catholic clergy provide a clear illustration, if one is needed, that permitted religious communities also experience repression. While CSW and HRCE welcome these releases, we also recall that thousands of prisoners of conscience remain detained without charge or trial, some of whom have been held in shipping containers and makeshift, overcrowded, and unsanitary facilities for over two decades,” Chyrum says in the January 5 report.


She adds, “We, therefore, urge the Eritrean government to go much further, by releasing everyone who has been subjected to lengthy and unjust arbitrary detention.”

In May 2002, Eritrea closed all churches not affiliated with the Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, or Orthodox Christian traditions, and began a campaign of arrests of adherents of non-sanctioned churches that reportedly continues to this day.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.