In a damning report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Saudi border guards are alleged to have committed mass killings of migrants along the Yemeni border. The report, titled “They Fired On Us Like Rain,” sheds light on the dire situation. Hundreds of individuals, many of them Ethiopians escaping the turmoil in Yemen to reach Saudi Arabia, have reportedly been fatally shot. The border guards’ actions have left migrants with limbs severed by gunfire and deceased bodies strewn along trails.
These tragic events took place despite Saudi Arabia’s prior denials of systematic killings. The report presents testimonies from migrants who recount being shot at and targeted with explosive weaponry by Saudi police and soldiers near Yemen’s rugged northern border with Saudi Arabia. Disturbingly, migrants describe terrifying nighttime crossings where groups of Ethiopians, including women and children, came under heavy gunfire as they attempted to enter Saudi Arabia in search of work.
Survivors tell harrowing tales of injuries and trauma. Some had limbs severed, while others endured bullets that left them severely wounded. The UN’s International Organization for Migration reveals that over 200,000 people annually risk the perilous journey from the Horn of Africa, crossing the sea to Yemen before making their way to Saudi Arabia. Along this treacherous path, migrants face imprisonment, beatings, and dire conditions.
The HRW report covers incidents from March 2022 to June of the current year. It documents 28 instances involving explosive weapons and 14 cases of close-range shootings. The report highlights the widespread and systematic nature of the abuses, potentially constituting crimes against humanity. Despite the gravity of the allegations, the Saudi government has rejected claims of systematic or large-scale killings, maintaining they lack evidence to support such assertions.
In a separate report by the Mixed Migration Centre, further allegations of killings along the border have surfaced, corroborating the disturbing accounts. Human Rights Watch’s report offers comprehensive evidence, including eyewitness testimony and satellite imagery of the alleged killing sites and makeshift burial locations. The report also identifies a detention center within Yemen where migrants are held before being escorted to the border by armed smugglers.
Fresh Burials :
The tragic situation appears ongoing, as the BBC’s investigation uncovered evidence of continued killings. Footage from the city of Saada shows injured migrants arriving at a hospital, and nearby cemeteries are witnessing fresh burials. Despite these distressing findings and numerous allegations, the Saudi government has not responded to requests for comment on these grave accusations.