In a disturbing report titled ‘They Fired On Us Like Rain,’ Human Rights Watch (HRW) sheds light on the dire circumstances faced by hundreds of migrants, predominantly Ethiopians, attempting to cross the war-torn Yemen to reach Saudi Arabia.
The report is replete with grim accounts of migrants being shot dead, experiencing limb-severing gunfire, and encountering lifeless bodies strewn along the perilous trails.
These shocking revelations stand in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia’s previous denials of involvement in any systematic killings.
The HRW report contains graphic testimonies from migrants who narrate harrowing experiences of being targeted by Saudi police and soldiers using not only firearms but also explosive weapons along Yemen’s rugged northern border with Saudi Arabia.
BBC’s separate interviews with migrants corroborate the claims put forth by the HRW report.
Terrifying nighttime crossings marked by large groups of Ethiopians, including women and children, come under relentless fire as they endeavor to cross the border in search of employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
One migrant, 21-year-old Mustafa Soufia Mohammed, recounted the unceasing barrage of gunfire that claimed the lives of some in his group of 45 migrants.
Mustafa, who himself sustained grievous injuries, shared, ‘I didn’t even notice I was shot, but when I tried to get up and walk, part of my leg was not with me.’
The journey to Saudi Arabia is portrayed as a perilous one, fraught with danger, starvation, and violence orchestrated by both Yemeni and Ethiopian smugglers.
Hope, Despair & Accountability: Migrant Struggles and Border Trauma
For Mustafa, his three-month journey culminated in a brutal and chaotic end, leading to the amputation of his leg below the knee.
Now, back in Ethiopia with his parents, Mustafa navigates life with crutches and an ill-fitting prosthetic limb.
The motivations driving these migrants are evident – they seek better lives and improved prospects for their families.
However, the pursuit of these dreams often lands them in the midst of trauma and suffering.
Zahra, an 18-year-old survivor who had invested around $2,500 in ransoms and bribes for her journey, endured a horrifying conclusion at the border.
A hail of bullets took all the fingers of one hand, leaving her emotionally scarred and unable to articulate the trauma she faced.
These heart-wrenching testimonies underscore the urgent need for transparency and accountability in border control and migration policies.
The HRW report not only demands attention but also prompts a deeper examination of the circumstances surrounding this humanitarian crisis.
As the international community grapples with the stories of these migrants, questions about human rights violations, accountability, and the responsibilities of the nations involved come to the forefront.
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