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.
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.”
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.