The government of Ethiopia announced on Tuesday a joint investigation with the government of Saudi Arabia into the alleged mass killings of Ethiopian migrants at the Saudi-Yemeni border. In a statement posted on the Ethiopian foreign ministry’s official X (Twitter) account, the government expressed its commitment to investigate the reported incidents in collaboration with Saudi authorities. It urged the public to exercise restraint and avoid unnecessary speculation until the investigation is complete.
The investigation comes in response to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday, which accuses Saudi border guards stationed along the Yemeni border of repeatedly attacking Ethiopian migrants, including women and children, attempting to cross into Saudi Arabia. The report claims that explosive weapons were used, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Ethiopian nationals. If true, these accusations point to serious violations of international law including crimes against humanity.
The international community has expressed concern over the allegations, with the US and UN calling for an investigation. Matt Huber, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Yemen’s Acting Chief of Mission, said, “Despite the heightened numbers of migrants entering Yemen and the severity of abuses they endure, people on the move continue to be largely invisible.”
Migrants often travel from Ethiopia through Djibouti or Somalia across the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States via Yemen. According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, 44 missing or dead migrants were recorded along the route. However, this figure is likely much higher as the IOM’s report only includes officially documented deaths.