Evidence supports claims of Saudi guards asking migrants “which limb to shoot” before execution.
A new report by Human Rights Watch has alleged that Saudi border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers trying to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023.
The rights group says the killings may amount to crimes against humanity if committed as part of a Saudi government policy.
The 73-page report, titled “‘They Fired on Us Like Rain’: Saudi Arabian Mass Killings of Ethiopian Migrants at the Yemen-Saudi Border,” documents interviews with 42 people including survivors and witnesses, as well as analysis of over 350 videos and photos.
Rights Watch researcher Nadia Hardman said “Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world.”
The report quoted one survivor saying “First I was eating with people and then they were dying. There are some people who you cannot identify because their bodies are thrown everywhere. Some people were torn in half.”
The report alleges that Saudi border guards used explosive weapons and gunfire to kill many migrants attempting to cross, including “many women and children.” In some cases, guards reportedly asked migrants “what limb to shoot” before shooting them at close range.
Forensic experts consulted by Human Rights Watch concluded some injuries were “consistent with the explosion of munitions” and others showed “characteristics consistent with gunshot wounds.”
Rights Watch is calling on Saudi authorities to end any policy of using lethal force on migrants. It also urges international pressure and sanctions against Saudi and Houthi officials implicated in ongoing abuses. The group says a UN investigation is needed to assess the scale of alleged crimes.
“Saudi border guards knew or should have known they were firing on unarmed civilians,” Hardman, the researcher, said. “If there is no justice for what appear to be serious crimes against Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers, it will only fuel further killings and abuses.”