The path of hope for hundreds, if not thousands, mostly Ethiopian migrants who had been plodding for months along one of the most dangerous routes in the world, ended on hot desert sands under fire from Saudi border guards. Sadistic shooting of pigeons by Riyadh soldiers, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), who leave corpses to rot in the sun or, at best, shoot them in the legs at close range without waiting to be asked by tired, hungry and helpless people. which limb they want to get hit on.
The odyssey begins in the remote areas of the Horn of Africa, continues to Djibouti, and then in improvised boats through the Bab el Mandeb (the name that sounds ominously in Italian as “Place of Funeral Lamentation”) between the Rosso Sea and the Gulf of Aden, through the war-torn Yemen to end up in concentration camps run by human traffickers led by Houthi rebels and then try their luck. According to the World Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 200,000 migrants travel this route every year. “I saw people being killed in ways I never imagined,” Hamdiya, 14, who managed to cross the border in February, told Human Rights Watch researchers. “I saw 30 people killed on the spot.” There are those who manage to cross the border, they are arrested, and then sent back. But even so, they say he won’t make it out alive. “They loaded us into a minibus, and when they let us out, they shouted for us to get out and leave,” Munira, 20, said, explaining that “when we were a kilometer away, the border guards could see us. We were resting together after a long run … and then our group was fired from mortars. There were 20 of us, and only 10 survived.”
“I have never come across anything like this, using explosives even against women and children,” said Nadia Hardman, lead researcher on the HRW report, whose researchers interviewed 42 survivors and friends and relatives of those who tried to infiltrate the kingdom. . , analyzed 350 videos and photos shared on social media or collected from other sources and taken between May 12, 2021 and July 18, 2023. Among the images are the dead, shreds of bodies and the wounded scattered across the border areas. But the horrors don’t end there. At least one case has been documented in which border guards forced a surviving young man to rape another by threatening to kill him. The exact number of victims is unknown. According to Hardman, “at least 655, but there will likely be thousands.” In June, another IOM report cited at least 795 victims, “mostly Ethiopians,” according to the Guardian. A targeted campaign against migrants that HRW believes could constitute a crime against humanity. Already in October, UN experts condemned the massacres in a letter to the government of Riyadh. But the Saudis responded that “authorities have found no information or evidence to support or support the allegations.” “We have expressed our concern about these allegations to the Saudi government,” a US State Department spokesman said after the report was released. Which the UN considers “very disturbing”.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is evaluating the possibility of meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of a September G20 meeting in India, who US intelligence believes ordered the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggi. At the same time, Downing Street, writes the Guardian, confirmed that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak intends to welcome bin Salman to London “as soon as possible.”