Saudi border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers attempting to cross the Saudi-Yemeni border, according to human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW). People are said to have been shot at close range, including children, the report said.

Accordingly, explosive weapons were also used against migrants. The report examined the period between March 2022 and June 2023. Recent investigations by HRW indicated that the killings are still taking place.

Foreign Office expresses concern

Foreign Minister Annelena Baerbock asked the Saudi Arabian government to comment on the report. The Federal Foreign Office has made it clear that it is also very important for cooperation that there is an answer from the Saudi government, said the Green politician after a meeting with Senegal’s Foreign Minister, Aissata TallSall.

“We are very concerned about the massive allegations made there,” a State Department spokeswoman said earlier. However, one has no own knowledge of the allegations made in the report. The Ethiopians are said to have been killed trying to cross the Saudi-Yemeni border.

The Federal Foreign Office is trying to raise such concerns in talks with international partners, the spokeswoman said. She doesn’t want to give any details, but adds: “The Federal Foreign Office speaks very regularly with Saudi Arabia, including on human rights issues.”

Mountains of corpses along the route

Eyewitnesses told the human rights activists about mountains of corpses along the migration route. “When the Saudi security officers see a group (migrants), they shoot non-stop,” one of the survivors told the aid workers. According to estimates by the human rights organization, the Saudi officials killed hundreds – “possibly thousands” – of migrants in the border area. Asylum seekers and migrants said the migration route between Yemen and Saudi Arabia was “riddled with abuse” and under the control of traffickers.

Despite the civil war, migrants continue to come to Yemen with the aim of reaching neighboring Saudi Arabia. It is estimated that far more than 90 percent of the migrants on the “dangerous eastern route” – from the Horn of Africa via the Gulf of Aden through Yemen to Saudi Arabia – come from Ethiopia. The route is also used by migrants from Somalia, Eritrea and occasionally other East African countries, according to HRW. In recent years, the proportion of women and girls migrating on the eastern route has increased.

A devastating conflict has been raging in Yemen since the end of 2014 between the government, the Houthi rebels and their allies. Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthis, who overran the country in 2014 and control large parts of the north. The United Nations regards the conflict in Yemen as a humanitarian catastrophe that has brought the country to the brink of famine.