Human Rights Watch alleges that Saudi border guards have killed at least hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers trying to cross from Yemen into Saudi Arabia between March 2022 and June 2023, in a report released Monday.
The killings would be considered crimes against humanity if they were part of a Saudi government policy, according to HRW. The rights group called on the United Nations to investigate.
The report, “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” found that “Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons to kill many migrants and shot other migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks.”
The killings are being conducted in a “remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,” Nadia Hardman, HRW refugee and migrant rights researcher, said. “Spending billions buying up professional golf, football clubs, and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not deflect attention from these horrendous crimes.”
The killings appear to be ongoing, the rights group said.
Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press, but they have previously denied its troops killed migrants.
HRW said it interviewed 38 Ethiopian migrants and four relatives of people who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border during an 18-month period.
All the victims, HRW said, “described scenes of horror: women, men, and children’s bodies strewn across the mountainous landscape severely injured, already dead and dismembered.”
HRW said in the report that it had analyzed over 350 videos and photographs posted to social media or gathered from other sources filmed between May 12, 2021, and July 18, 2023.
Mortar projectiles and other explosives were used in attacks, victims said.
One 14-year-old girl told HRW, “We were fired on repeatedly. I saw people killed in a way I have never imagined. . . I pushed myself under a rock and slept there. I could feel people sleeping around me. I realized what I thought were people sleeping around me were actually dead bodies. I woke up and I was alone.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.