The government of Ethiopia said it will “promptly investigate the incident in tandem with the Saudi Authorities” after a report published yesterday by Human Rights Watch (HRW), revealed massive allegations of killings of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the Yemen-Saudi border by Saudi border guards.
The statement by the ministry of Foreign Affairs said “at this critical juncture, it is highly advised to exercise utmost restraint from making unnecessary speculations until investigation is complete,” adding that despite “the unfortunate tragedy”, the two countries “enjoy excellent long standing relations”.
Saudi authorities have strongly countered the allegations by HRW, describing them as “unfounded and not based on reliable sources”. A Saudi official, communicating via email with Reuters, also refuted similar claims made by UN officials in 2022 that border guards had systematically killed migrants the previous year.
HRW’s report sheds light on the perilous circumstances faced by Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers who dare to traverse the Yemen-Saudi border. The organization asserts that Saudi border guards have employed lethal force, resulting in the deaths of numerous individuals, including women and children, who are seeking a better life and protection from conflict and persecution.
Surviving migrants have come forward with distressing testimonies recounting alleged abuses at the hands of Saudi border guards. According to these migrants, once they managed to cross the border, they fell victim to targeted attacks using mortar projectiles and other explosive weapons.
These accusations carry substantial weight and have garnered international attention. A spokesperson for the State Department stated that the report’s concerns had been conveyed to the Saudi government, urging them to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the matter. Despite numerous attempts by Reuters, there has been no response from the Ethiopian government in Addis Abeba or Houthi officials in Yemen regarding these allegations.
Currently, Saudi Arabia is hosting approximately 750,000 Ethiopian migrants, many of whom are seeking improved economic opportunities. However, instead of finding refuge and safety, a significant number have fallen prey to brutal attacks, according to HRW.