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Ethiopia says it will investigate alleged migrant killings with Saudi Arabia

August 22, 2023 at 5:53 pm

A nurse of the rescue team talks with a migrant after the migrants were rescued from the sea and taken on board in the Spanish NGO Open Arms rescue operation at the SAR Zone of Libya on August 02, 2023 [Valeria Ferraro – Anadolu Agency]

Ethiopia will work with Saudi Arabian authorities to investigate allegations made by a human rights group that hundreds of Ethiopian migrants have been killed by the Kingdom’s border guards, its Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Saudi Arabian officials did not respond to a request for comment about the investigation. A Saudi official said, on Monday, that the allegations made in the report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) were “unfounded”.

“The Government of Ethiopia will promptly investigate the incident in tandem with Saudi Authorities,” the Foreign Ministry statement said, emphasizing the strong relations between the two governments.

“It is highly advised to exercise utmost restraint from making unnecessary speculations until investigation is complete,” the statement said.

In a 73-page report released on Monday, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi guards posted along the Yemen border of “widespread and systematic” attacks on migrants, who use remote mountain tracks to cross the frontier by foot.

HRW said the guards used explosive weapons to kill some migrants and shot at others from close range.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it would raise the report’s findings with the Saudi government and the Houthi authorities in Yemen.

“We welcome the announcement by the government of Ethiopia specifically to investigate the whole issue together with the authorities in Saudi Arabia,” Commission spokesman, Peter Stano, told a daily press conference.

The US government and the United Nations have also called for a thorough investigation. UN officials, in 2022, alleged that Saudi border guards were systematically killing migrants last year, an accusation that Saudi authorities strongly denied.

The migration route from the Horn of Africa, across the Gulf of Aden, through Yemen and into Saudi Arabia – one of the richest countries in the Arab world – is a well-established corridor for Ethiopian migrants.

READ: HRW: Saudi border guards killing hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants