ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia said on Tuesday it would launch a joint investigation with Saudi Arabia into a Human Rights Watch report accusing the kingdom’s border guards of killing hundreds of Ethiopian migrants.
The report sparked global outrage after its publication on Monday, although a Saudi government source dismissed the allegations as “unfounded.”
“The Government of Ethiopia will promptly investigate the incident in tandem with the Saudi Authorities,” the foreign ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.
“At this critical juncture, it is highly advised to exercise utmost restraint from making unnecessary speculations until (the) investigation is complete,” the ministry said, noting the “excellent longstanding relations” between Addis Ababa and Riyadh.
The report points to a surge in abuses along the perilous migrant route from the Horn of Africa to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians live and work.
One 20-year-old woman from Ethiopia’s Oromia region, interviewed by the US-based rights monitor, said Saudi border guards opened fire on a group of migrants they had just released from custody.
“They fired on us like rain. When I remember, I cry,” she said.
The UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says hundreds of thousands of people each year take the so-called eastern route from Africa in the hope of working in the wealthy Gulf countries.
The travellers face “life-threatening dangers,” including starvation, dehydration, kidnapping and arrest, or being forced to join warring groups, particularly in Yemen, it says.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Yemen is in the grip of a deep humanitarian crisis after eight years of war pitting Iran-backed Houthi rebels against the Saudi coalition-backed government.
The Saudi government source rejected the HRW accusations.
“The allegations included in the Human Rights Watch report about Saudi border guards shooting Ethiopians while they were crossing the Saudi-Yemeni border are unfounded and not based on reliable sources,” said the source, who requested anonymity.
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