ERITREA: Bishops Condemn Government’s Closure of Health Clinics

ASMARA, JUNE 18, 2019 (CISA)-Catholic Bishops in Eritrea have condemned the government for shutting down and seizing 22 health clinics operated by the Church.

In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Health on June 13, the bishops said that the measure is totally ‘unreasonable’ and ‘inappropriate’ and that the Church cannot hand-over its facilities willingly, as ordered.

“The government can say it doesn’t want the services of the Church, but asking for the property is not right,” reads a letter sent jointly by Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim of Segheneity, Bishop Kindane Yebio of Keren and Bishop Thomas Osman of Barentu.

The government of Eritrea on June 12 ordered the Catholic Church to hand over to the state all the health centers managed by the Church, signing a document for the transfer of property.

The bishops lamented how patients were ordered to go home and soldiers deployed to guard the clinics, many of which were located in monasteries.

“How can health services provided by the Catholic Church, services that were being provided in coordination with the government, be abruptly stopped without any compensation?” the bishops decried.

They stressed that the Church has an obligation of serving the people and this social service is not to be interpreted as an act of opposing the government.

The government is yet to respond to the letter by the bishops.