Saudi Border Guards Accused of Mass Killing of Migrants

A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses Saudi border guards of the mass killing of migrants along the Yemeni border. The report reveals that hundreds of people, many of them Ethiopians attempting to reach Saudi Arabia, have been shot dead by Saudi police and soldiers. Migrants have recounted horrifying experiences, including limbs being severed by gunfire and witnessing bodies left on the trails. Saudi Arabia has denied allegations of systematic killings.

The Human Rights Watch report, titled “They Fired On Us Like Rain,” provides graphic testimony from migrants who were shot at and targeted with explosive weapons at Yemen’s rugged northern border with Saudi Arabia. Survivors have described terrifying night-time crossings, during which large groups of Ethiopians, including women and children, were fired upon as they tried to cross the border for work in Saudi Arabia.

One survivor, Mustafa Soufia Mohammed, recalls a brutal incident in July last year when his group of 45 migrants came under fire, resulting in several deaths and his own severe injury. Mustafa’s left leg was almost completely severed and had to be amputated below the knee. Now, he relies on crutches and a prosthetic limb. Many survivors show signs of deep trauma, such as Zahra, an 18-year-old girl who had all the fingers on one hand taken by a bullet.

According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration, over 200,000 people attempt the dangerous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and then on to Saudi Arabia each year. Human rights organizations have highlighted the imprisonment and beatings many migrants face along the way. The sea crossing itself poses significant risks, with recent reports of shipwrecks and missing migrants. The main migrant routes in Yemen are marked by numerous graves of those who perished.

While previous incidents of abuse have occurred, the HRW report stands out due to its scale and nature. Nadia Hardman, the lead author of the report, describes the sites as “killing fields,” with bodies strewn across the hillsides. The report documents 28 separate incidents involving explosive weapons and 14 cases of shootings at close range. The authors estimate a minimum of 655 deaths, but believe the actual number could be in the thousands.

The Saudi government, which previously rejected the UN’s allegations of systematic killings, has not responded to the recent reports. The existence of a detention center at Monabbih, inside Yemen, has also been uncovered. This facility is used to hold migrants before they are escorted to the border by armed smugglers. According to HRW interviews, the Houthi rebels in Yemen are involved in security at Monabbih.

The mass killing of migrants by Saudi border guards has significant implications for society. It raises concerns about the treatment of migrants, human rights violations, and the safety of those attempting to seek a better life. The international community must pay attention to these allegations and ensure that justice is served for the victims.