“Saudi authorities have killed hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this area, hidden from the eyes of the rest of the world”

Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians work in Saudi Arabia, sometimes taking the “eastern route” that connects them to the Horn of Africa and passing through Yemen, an impoverished country that has been at war for more than eight years.

“Saudi authorities are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border region, out of sight of the rest of the world,” HRW migration expert Nadia Hartman said in a statement.

“Billions” spent on sports and entertainment to “improve the image of Saudi Arabia” should not distract from “these heinous crimes,” he slammed.

NGOs continue to accuse Riyadh of investing in major sporting and cultural events to “distract attention” from serious human rights abuses and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where the Saudi military is involved.

The NGO believes the “widespread and systematic” killing of Ethiopian migrants may even amount to a crime against humanity.

Saudi authorities did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment on the case.

Last year, UN experts reported “alarming allegations” that “some 430 migrants were killed by Saudi security forces in cross-border artillery fire and small arms fire” in southern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen in the first four months of 2022.

Northern Yemen is largely controlled by the Houthis, rebels who have been fighting since 2015 in support of pro-Saudi forces.

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HRW relied on interviews with 38 Ethiopian migrants who tried to enter Saudi Arabia from Yemen, satellite images and videos, and photos posted on social media “or gathered from other sources.”

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Interviewees spoke of “explosive weapons” and point-blank shooting, while Saudi border guards asked Ethiopians “which part of their body they would like to shoot.”

These migrants describe scenes of horror: “Women, men and children scattered in the mountains, badly injured, mutilated or already dead”, reports HRW.

The organization is calling on Riyadh to “immediately end” its use of deadly force against migrants and asylum seekers, urging the UN to investigate the allegations.

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