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Passengers are processed at the immigration section at Asmara International Airport Eritrea in 2018, the same airport where the bishop was detained (CNS/Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)

Eritrean authorities are continuing to detain a Catholic bishop who was arrested at the Asmara International Airport on October 15.

After the Church queried about the situation and the whereabouts of Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim of Segheneity, government authorities confirmed the bishop, who turns 52 on Sunday, is in their custody.

Bishop Tsalim was picked up soon after returning from a trip to Europe, but as of yesterday, government authorities had not given any reasons for his detention.

Fides, the news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, said Bishop Tsalim and two other priests were being held at Adi Abeto prison.

“We have received this ominous news with immense pain and bewilderment at what is happening in our country,” said Fr Mussie Zerai, a priest of Eritrean origin who works with migrants. “Our hope (is) that all priests and the bishop currently in custody will be released as soon as possible.”

On October 11, security agents arrested Fr Mihratab Stefanos, the priest in charge of St Michael’s Church in the diocese. Another Catholic priest, identified as Capuchin Abbot Abraham, was detained in the western town of Teseney.

Bishop Tsalim has been serving the diocese since 2012, when he was ordained its first bishop.

“We ask for the solidarity of all African bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Africa, who pray for their liberation and for peace throughout the Horn of Africa region. The people of this region are exhausted by war and famine and the absence of lasting peace,” Fr Zerai said.


Eritrean authorities detain Catholic bishop, but won’t say why (CNS)