Saudi Border Guards Kill Hundreds of Ethiopian Migrants at Yemen Border, Says HRW Report

Saudi Border Guards Kill Hundreds of Ethiopian Migrants at Yemen Border, Says HRW Report

Between March 2022 and June 2023, Saudi border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants who were attempting to cross the border from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rocky region around Sadaa in northern Yemen, which is close to the Saudi border, has become treacherous territory for migrants. Satellite imagery and social media posts have revealed the bodies of deceased or seriously injured migrants, most of whom are from Ethiopia.

The HRW report, titled “They Fired on Us Like Rain,” documents widespread abuses committed on the Yemen-Saudi border. The report highlights that Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons and shot people at close range, including women and children, in a pattern that is both widespread and systematic. The report suggests that if these killings are part of an official Saudi government policy to harm migrants, they could constitute a crime against humanity.

Reports of violations on the migration route known as the “Eastern Route” or the “Yemeni Route” have been increasing. This route starts from the Horn of Africa, crosses the Gulf of Aden, passes through Yemen, and leads into Saudi Arabia. The Mixed Migration Centre, in a report published on July 5, stated that Ethiopians were being systematically killed by security officials operating under Saudi Arabian state authority. The United Nations has also expressed concern, citing cross-border killings committed by Saudi security forces.

The HRW report shares witness accounts from Ethiopian migrants who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border. One account described how a 14-year-old girl named “Hamdiya” witnessed people being killed immediately after crossing into Saudi territory. Another survivor spoke of an incident where a group of 170 people came under fire while attempting to cross the border. The witness confirmed that many people were killed in the attack.

The HRW report adds to growing evidence of the alarming human rights abuses occurring at the Yemen-Saudi border. The need to address these violations and protect the rights of migrants is crucial for both Saudi Arabia and the international community.