Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia launch joint investigation into migrant killings

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that it will collaborate with Riyadh in conducting a joint investigation into a report by Human Rights Watch after the report had accused Saudi border guards of causing the deaths of numerous Ethiopian migrants who were attempting to enter the Gulf kingdom.

“The Government of Ethiopia will promptly investigate the incident in tandem with the Saudi Authorities,” the ministry said on X, formerly Twitter, a day after the publication of the HRW report sparked global outrage.

The allegations, which a Saudi government source deemed as “baseless,” highlight a rise in violations along the treacherous path from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia. This route is frequently taken by hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians who seek to live and work in the Gulf kingdom.

An interview conducted by HRW with a 20-year-old woman from Ethiopia’s Oromia region revealed that Saudi border guards fired upon a group of migrants immediately after releasing them from custody.

“They fired on us like rain. When I remember, I cry,” she said.

Washington, a longstanding ally of Riyadh, called for a comprehensive and transparent inquiry into the allegations.

The report is regarded as “very concerning” by United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. However, he acknowledged that the “serious” allegations are challenging to confirm.

For nearly a decade, the New York-based human rights organization has meticulously recorded instances of mistreatment endured by Ethiopian migrants in both Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

But, it said, the latest killings appear to be “widespread and systematic” and may amount to crimes against humanity.

In the previous year, United Nations experts disclosed “concerning accusations” stating that”cross-border artillery shelling and small-arms fire by Saudi Arabia security forces killed approximately 430 migrants.”

These incidents occurred in southern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen during the initial four months of 2022.

In March of that same year, the process of repatriating Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia was initiated as part of an agreement between the two nations. Ethiopia’s foreign ministry indicated that approximately 100,000 of its citizens were anticipated to be returned to their homeland over the course of several months.

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