05/10/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Jeffrey Feltman, the newly appointed Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, is on a tour of the region just weeks after beginning his new position at the Department of State. The tour will include Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan and concludes on Thursday.
Many analysts believe that Feltman’s appointment and his early trip to the region indicate the Biden administration intends to prioritize east Africa moving forward. The position is a new one, and its creation comes at a time of significant tension in the region, both between countries and internally.
A statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s office underscored “the Administration’s commitment to lead[ing] a sustained diplomatic effort” in the region. Feltman’s trip, the statement said, is part of an ongoing effort to “address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.”
While many of the crises facing Feltman have origins in ethnic or political strife, the region has also witnessed significant religious persecution. Eritrea, for example, aggressively suppresses the free practice of religion and has garnered a well-earned reputation for being among the worst persecutors in the world. Prisoners of conscience often languish in Eritrean prison for years before their cases are even heard, suffering unimaginably inhumane living conditions and torture as they wait.
Eritrea was once again named in the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report, published in April. The report lists Eritrea among the worst religious freedom violators in the world for its systematic and egregious abuses of religious freedom, including the systematic torture of Christians and other religious minorities.
Christians and other religious minorities continue to face serious government persecution across the region, including in Egypt where Feltman began his tour. The ability to freely practice one’s religion is a basic human right and one that must not be forgotten as the United States works towards overall peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.
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