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Eritrean Bishops call for 'peace and reconciliation'

Following the country's independence in 1993, the one-part state has continued to suffer from conflict and severe drought, making it one of Africa's poorest countries.

The UN's Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reported that more than a fifth of Eritrea's six-million people have fled, where indefinite military service is compulsory for all men.

According to Human Rights Watch, thousands are being held in prison without trial for holding contrary views to the government.

Violence and exploitation is causing 'massive fleeing abroad' according to the bishops, as many seek asylum overseas.

They are urging for a ban on hate speech, in an effort to restore peace.

The bishops' plan is proposing to 'establish a national commission to campaign for truth and reconciliation' and to remove factors of tension and promote conversation and compromise.

Their pastoral letter stated: "At a time like this, when the country goes through severe tests, it needs more than ever an intervention of God."

They concluded that through this plan they hope to achieve: "the fulfilment of our dream of an Eritrea united, reconciled and founded on peace and justice".

The two major religions of Eritrea are Christianity and Islam, with a roughly 50% split.

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