Thousands of migrants have been massacred by Saudi border guards this year after opening fire on them “like rain” as they tried to cross Yemen into the Gulf kingdom, according to a major report.
The Human Rights Watch report, released on Monday, said some migrants, many from Ethiopia, were attacked at point-blank range while others were targeted by mortar rounds.
Many migrants are said to have had their legs cut off and their fingers shot as their bodies were strewn across the trail.
The allegations, described as “unsubstantiated” by a Saudi government source, point to a significant escalation in abuses along the perilous “eastern route” from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians live and work. The kingdom has previously dismissed claims of systemic killings.
“Saudi authorities are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area, safe from the rest of the world,” HRW researcher Nadia Hardman said in a statement.
Ethiopian migrants walk on the banks of Ras al-Ara, Lahj, Yemen, July 26, 2019. Thousands of migrants, many from Ethiopia, have been massacred by Saudi border guards this year, according to a report by HRW
Ms Hardman continued: “Spending billions to buy professional golf, soccer clubs and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not distract from these horrific crimes.”
A Saudi government source told AFP: “Allegations included in the Human Rights Watch report that Saudi border guards fired on Ethiopians as they crossed the Saudi-Yemeni border are unfounded and unfounded. on reliable sources.
The New York-based group has documented abuses against Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia and Yemen for nearly a decade, but the latest killings appear to be “widespread and systematic” and may amount to crimes against humanity, a- he declared.
Last year, UN experts reported “worrying” allegations that “cross-border artillery fire and small arms fire by Saudi security forces killed around 430 migrants” in the southern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen in the first four months of 2022.
The HRW report, titled They Fired On Us Like Rain, says there were no responses to letters sent to the Saudi ministries of interior and defense, the human rights commission and Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen.
In 2015, Saudi officials mobilized a military coalition in an effort to halt the advance of the Iran-backed Huthis, who had seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa from the internationally recognized government the previous year.
The war in Yemen has created what the United Nations describes as one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world.
But many of the abuses described by HRW allegedly occurred during a truce that came into effect in April 2022 and largely held despite its official expiration last October.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Vladimir Putin in Riyadh on August 5. The kingdom’s regime has previously dismissed allegations of systemic murders of migrants
HRW’s report is based on interviews with 38 Ethiopian migrants who tried to cross into Saudi Arabia from Yemen, as well as satellite images, videos and photos posted on social media “or collected from other source”.
Respondents described 28 “incidents with explosive weapons”, including attacks by mortar projectiles, according to the report.
Some survivors described attacks at point-blank range, with Saudi border guards asking Ethiopians “in which part of their body they would prefer to be shot”, according to the report.
“All those interviewed described scenes of horror: women, men and children scattered across the mountainous landscape seriously injured, dismembered or already dead,” he said.
A 20-year-old woman from Ethiopia’s Oromia region said Saudi border guards fired on a group of migrants they had just released.
“They shot at us like rain. When I remember, I cry,” she said.
“I saw a guy calling for help, he lost both his legs. He was screaming; he was saying, ‘Are you leaving me here? Please don’t leave me.’ help because we were running for our lives.
HRW called on Riyadh to “immediately and urgently revoke” any policy of using lethal force against migrants and asylum seekers and urged the UN to investigate the alleged killings.