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Ethiopia says it will investigate alleged migrant killings with Saudi Arabia

UN officials in 2022 alleged that Saudi border guards were systematically killing migrants last year; an accusation that Saudi authorities strongly denied.

Reuters
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A Red Sea map shows migration route from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia through Yemen, in this handout photo released on Aug 21. Photo: Reuters
A Red Sea map shows migration route from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia through Yemen, in this handout photo released on Aug 21. Photo: Reuters

Ethiopia will work with Saudi Arabian authorities to investigate allegations made by a human rights group that hundreds of Ethiopian migrants have been killed by the kingdom's border guards, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabian officials did not respond to a request for comment about the investigation. A Saudi official said on Monday that the allegations made in the report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) were "unfounded".

"The Government of Ethiopia will promptly investigate the incident in tandem with Saudi Authorities," the foreign ministry statement said, emphasising the strong relations between the two governments.

"It is highly advised to exercise utmost restraint from making unnecessary speculations until investigation is complete," the statement said.

In a 73-page report released on Monday, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi guards posted along the Yemen border of "widespread and systematic" attacks on migrants, who use remote mountain tracks to cross the frontier by foot.

HRW said the guards used explosive weapons to kill some migrants and shot at others from close range.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it would raise the report's findings with the Saudi government and the Houthi authorities in Yemen.

"We welcome the announcement by the government of Ethiopia specifically to investigate the whole issue together with the authorities in Saudi Arabia," Commission spokesman Peter Stano told a daily press conference.

The US government and the United Nations have also called for a thorough investigation. UN officials in 2022 alleged that Saudi border guards were systematically killing migrants last year; an accusation that Saudi authorities strongly denied.

The migration route from the Horn of Africa, across the Gulf of Aden, through Yemen and into Saudi Arabia - one of the richest countries in the Arab world - is a well-established corridor for Ethiopian migrants.

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