Breaking News: Saudi Arabia Accused of Continued Mass Killings of Ethiopians and Yemenis at Border

Saudi Arabia continues to kill Ethiopian and Yemeni migrants at its border with impunity, despite international reports documenting the abuses, a new report has found. According to the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), Saudi border authorities have indiscriminately fired at Ethiopian and Yemeni migrants attempting to cross from Yemen in 2023 and 2024.

Human Rights Watch has labeled the killings as possible crimes against humanity, but MMC says international inaction continues to enable Saudi Arabia to commit these violations without consequence.

Before the release of a Human Rights Watch report, Middle East Eye also reported that Yemenis braving violence at the border were in pursuit of work in Saudi Arabia. In its latest report, MMC stated that Saudi border police arrest large groups of migrants when they fail to deter them with rounds of shelling.

Those arrested are taken to Saudi jails, where they face beatings, torture, and sexual abuse. MMC added that Saudi guards use loudspeakers, automated firing systems, and heavy surveillance to scare migrants.

Over 400 Killed in Three Months

Across three months in 2022, MMC found evidence of 430 killings and 650 injuries caused by Saudi border guards. Shortly after the 2022 MMC report, a UN communication accused Saudi authorities of violating migrants’ human rights, highlighting that girls as young as 13 were reportedly raped by Saudi security forces.

The UN letter included a report of a clandestine cemetery in Al Khals, Saudi Arabia, where 10,000 bodies of migrants were buried, believed to have been killed in Yemen’s border area of Ar Raqw.

Location of burial sites identified on satellite imagery close to Al Raqw migrant camp.  From Human Rights Watch report

The updated 2024 report by MMC stated that international indifference towards the Saudi-led mass shootings has allowed the crimes to continue. Despite a brief storm of international outrage in 2023, MMC said that 10 months on, governments—including the US and EU countries—and UN agencies remain silent about the scale of border killings.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has made no effort to conduct an official investigation, MMC said.

“So little has been done to censure Saudi Arabia, which surely can find an alternative, less cruel way of deterring the poorest of irregular migrants whose only offense is desperately wanting to be economically productive in a hugely wealthy migrant-dependent economy,” the report stated.

When reports about the border killings emerged last year, the US called on Saudi Arabia to identify which members of its security forces were alleged to have killed Ethiopian migrants, the Washington Post reported.

The Yemeni border has become a major transit point for people from the Horn of Africa attempting to cross into Saudi Arabia. Many refugees and migrants rely on networks of traffickers to help them travel along the route, leaving them vulnerable to violence.

The majority of people attempting to cross the border are Ethiopians, many of whom are escaping civil conflict in their own country. A 2021 report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) found that more than 800,000 Ethiopians have fled the country in search of employment and economic opportunities.

EAR- Editorial Note

This breaking news story is sourced from Middle East Eye, a publication renowned for its independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond. Middle East Eye has consistently provided in-depth reporting and insightful commentary on key issues affecting the region, often bringing to light stories that mainstream media overlook. Their commitment to journalistic integrity and comprehensive reporting ensures that readers receive accurate, balanced, and timely information about complex and critical events.

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