Saudi border guards accused of mass killing of migrants at Yemeni border
WASHINGTON, US - In an unprecedented and deeply disturbing series of events, Saudi border guards are reportedly responsible for the killings of hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers between March 2022 and June 2023. This shocking pattern, widespread and systematic, holds implications so grave that it may be classified as a crime against humanity if tied to a deliberate government policy.
This tragic situation began to unfold on the dangerous migration route known as the "Eastern Route" or the "Yemeni Route." Predominantly taken by Ethiopian migrants, this route is fraught with peril, passing through the Gulf of Aden, Yemen, and finally into Saudi Arabia. Recent years have seen a rise in women and girls making this treacherous journey.
The migrants' harrowing stories reveal a journey filled with abuse and extortion at the hands of traffickers and smugglers. Yemen, already struggling with one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, has not been a safe place for these migrants either. The Houthi armed group and Yemeni guards have been involved in various abuses, including torture, towards migrants and asylum seekers.
Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with Ethiopian migrants reveal the horror faced at the Saudi border. The border guards' tactics include asking victims where they would prefer to be shot before shooting them at close range and using explosive weapons against those attempting to flee.
These shocking events occur against the backdrop of a significant Ethiopian presence in Saudi Arabia. With an estimated 750,000 Ethiopians living and working in the country, the situation's complexity is evident. Many have fled to escape human rights abuses, and the current situation at the border presents an urgent humanitarian concern.
In Saada, migrant camps controlled by Houthi forces contain tens of thousands of men, women, and children, all waiting for their chance to cross into Saudi Arabia. Their crossing attempts are met with lethal force from Saudi border guards, who are often sighted patrolling the border with rifles and large vehicles equipped with what appear to be rocket launchers.
Satellite imagery and video evidence further confirm the grim reality on the ground. These disturbing visuals showcase dead and wounded migrants, expanding burial sites near the migrant camps, and the growing Saudi Arabian border security infrastructure.
The crisis at the Yemen-Saudi border is a stark reminder of the profound human rights challenges facing our world today. The suffering and loss of life are staggering, and the international community must take immediate action to address this urgent situation.