Saudi border guards killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants, HRW says

Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants, including women and children, who attempted to enter the kingdom along its mountainous border with Yemen, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.

In a 73-page report, the rights group said Saudi guards used explosive weapons to kill some migrants and shot at others from close range. It compiled testimony from 38 Ethiopians who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023, as well as four relatives or friends of migrants.

Reuters independently analyzed video clips provided by HRW showing corpses, injured people, the digging of graves, and groups of people traversing mountain paths.

A Saudi official, who did not provide their name, said on Monday in an emailed response to questions to the government’s media office that HRW’s allegations were “unfounded and not based on reliable sources.”

Saudi authorities have also strongly denied allegations made by U.N. officials in 2022 that border guards systematically killed migrants last year.

The Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa and Houthi officials in Yemen did not respond to requests for comment Reuters sent early on Monday.

There are an estimated 750,000 Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia, according to U.N. studies. Many have fled economic hardship in Ethiopia, which has also seen its northern province of Tigray riven by a brutal conflict in recent years.