Eritreans living in Italy have held a demonstration in Rome against the Eritrean government after it closed all the health centres run by the Catholic Church.
One protester, Desbele Mehari, told BBC Tigrinya on Sunday that the church-run health centres had been giving quality services to everyone and their closure would affect the poor and vulnerable.
Last month, the Eritrean government ordered all health facilities run by the Catholic Church to be closed. Then a week ago, the authorities ordered Catholic nuns, who were living within the clinics’ compounds to move out.
Sources told the BBC, that nuns who had been running a hospital in Zager, a village about 30km (19 miles) north of the capital, Asmara, were prevented from taking any hospital equipment with them.
The hospital provided maternity and general services for villages in the area. A nun told the BBC “this action hurts the people”.
Eritrean Catholic bishops have been calling, in their pastoral letters, for national reconciliation, political reforms and justice.
But the government said in a statement, that the closure of the clinics was in line with a 1995 regulation which “limits developmental activities of religious institutions”.