Saudi forces accused of killing Ethiopian migrants


Saudi forces have been accused of killing Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers at the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch. Titled “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” the investigation delves deep into the systematic abuses inflicted upon migrants.

Saudi forces accused of killing Ethiopian migrants
Ethiopian migrants arrive on Yemen’s coast. People attempting to reach Saudi Arabia on this route have reported mass shootings by the kingdom’s border forces © Nariman El-Mofty/AP

The report, spanning 73 pages, brings to light the extensive and profound mistreatment suffered by Ethiopian migrants. It reveals that Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons and close-range firearms against a large number of migrants, including women and children. Some victims were even forced to choose which limb would be shot.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s attempts to enhance its global reputation through investments in sports and entertainment, Nadia Hardman, a researcher from Human Rights Watch, asserts that these “appalling acts” should not be overlooked. She states, “Billions spent on acquiring professional golf, football clubs, and elite entertainment events shouldn’t divert focus from these appalling acts.”

The report is grounded in an analysis of more than 350 videos, photographs, and satellite images. It sheds light on the dire circumstances faced by migrants and asylum seekers. After embarking on treacherous journeys across the Gulf of Aden, many were subjected to extortion by Houthi forces or endured abuse in holding facilities until they could afford the demanded “exit fee.”

Saudi forces accused of killing Ethiopian migrants
Saudi forces accused of killing Ethiopian migrants.

Eyewitness testimonies included in the report are chilling, recounting indiscriminate attacks by mortars and other explosive weapons once migrants reached Saudi soil. The scenes depicted are gruesome, with landscapes marked by the wounded, dead, and dismembered. Survivors report that some individuals were literally torn apart.

The authenticity of these accounts has been confirmed through the examination of digital evidence, such as videos and photographs that were shared on social media. After undergoing thorough geolocation and verification by the Independent Forensic Expert Group of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, it is undeniable that there were clear signs of injuries caused by explosive devices and firearms.

In light of these findings, the report strongly urges Saudi Arabia to revoke any policies that condone the use of lethal force against migrants and asylum seekers. Furthermore, it calls upon governments worldwide to actively advocate for accountability, even proposing the imposition of sanctions on officials who are complicit in these actions.

Ericson Mangoli
Ericson Mangoli is the founder and Managing Editor of Who Owns Africa, a platform for African journalism that focuses on politics, governance, and business. With a passion for truth and a dedication to highlighting pressing issues in Africa, Mangoli has become a significant voice in the field. He embarked on this journey after graduating with a degree in communications and realizing his true calling was in investigative reporting and shedding light on untold stories.  Who Owns Africa provides thought-provoking articles, in-depth analyses, and incisive commentary to help people understand the complexities of the region. Mangoli is committed to impartiality and ethical reporting, setting high standards for his team. His vision for the platform is to foster critical thinking and promote informed discussions that have a positive impact on African society. Mangoli is known for his eloquent and insightful writing which tackles pressing issues in Africa. His articles cover a range of topics including political corruption, economic development, fostering international partnerships, and African governance. He sheds light on the complexities of these subjects and empowers readers to engage in conversations for positive change. Mangoli's coverage of African politics analyzes the factors that drive change and hinder progress, while his reporting on governance advocates for stronger institutions and policies. Additionally, he explores the challenges and opportunities facing African businesses and inspires readers to contribute to Africa's economic growth.


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