Eritrea is the country that most censors and imprisons journalists in Africa South of Sahara, according to a report of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Eritrea is also the most unavailable country for the international community. It is against this backdrop that Eritrean exile writers and journalists established PEN Eritrea in exile. PEN Eritrea, supported by Norwegian PEN, was officially recognized by PEN International during the 80th Congress in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 1st October, 2014.

PEN Eritrea was initiated and established by the devoted and dedicated efforts of Dessale Berekhet Abraham, journalist from Eritrea, and resident writer in Bø, Telemark. In a short period of time, with scarce resources, the Center has carried out a number of major activities since its establishment. The purpose has been multi-faceted: to be a point of contact between the international community and the inaccessible homeland, and to inform, share sources and promote cases of violation of freedom of expression in Eritrea and persecution of journalists and other writers. Several journalists have been imprisoned and isolated for more than 14 years.

PEN Eritrea actively uses their website and social media. Their Facebook page has more than 200,000 readers in a week. PEN Eritrea is also on Twitter with the account @PEN_Ertra.

Norwegian PEN is a support center for PEN Eritrea. Norwegian PEN supports the Center’s long-term work.