Title: Saudi Border Guards Accused of Killing Ethiopian Migrants, HRW Report Claims
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report alleging that Saudi border guards have been responsible for the deaths of “hundreds” of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the Yemen-Saudi border. The organization claims that these killings have occurred between March 2022 and June 2023.
To substantiate their claims, HRW conducted interviews with 42 Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers, meticulously analyzed over 350 videos and photographs, and examined satellite imagery. These pieces of evidence collectively support the assertions made in the report.
Forensic pathologists who reviewed videos shared on social media, including TikTok and Facebook, identified bodies along the migrant trail and observed wounds consistent with explosive blasts or gunshots on surviving migrants. HRW claims that it has verified and sourced these videos to support its findings. Furthermore, satellite imagery revealed the existence of growing graveyards near informal migrant camps and newly constructed fences near Saudi border guard posts.
According to HRW, if these killings are found to be part of a larger Saudi government policy aimed at murdering migrants, it would constitute a crime against humanity. The organization affirms that the violence is ongoing.
It is important to note that CNN has been unable to independently verify the incidents or allegations outlined in the report. On the other hand, a Saudi government source has refuted the accusations, asserting that they are baseless and stem from unreliable sources.
Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers have long attempted to cross the “Eastern Route” from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia. Their journey is fraught with danger as they often face violence and abuse from smugglers along the way. The unstable security situation in Ethiopia, particularly in the Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia regions, has also prompted civilians to flee.
The civil war in Yemen, which commenced in 2014, has exacerbated the situation, leading to one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian crises. The population has suffered bombings, famine, and displacement as a result.
HRW reports that smugglers transport around 200 migrants at a time from Yemen to Saudi Arabia. Those who fail to pay smuggler fees are often coerced into leading the group, making them more vulnerable to attacks.
Survivors who were interviewed by HRW recounted instances of being fired upon by Saudi border guards. Shockingly, some were even asked to choose which limb they preferred to be shot at close range.
The HRW report also sheds light on the role played by Houthi militant group in facilitating access to the border for smugglers and migrants. The group has been implicated in acts of torture, arbitrary detention, and trafficking.
In light of these serious allegations, Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations to establish an independent investigation into the killings of migrants and asylum seekers.
This report follows previous accusations made by a group of UN experts in 2022, who claimed that Saudi security forces were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of migrants in cross-border incidents.
As investigations proceed, it remains crucial to ensure the safety and protection of all migrants and asylum seekers attempting to flee precarious conditions and seek refuge elsewhere.
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