IllustrationMaxim Dinstien, Flash 90

A new report by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch accused Saudi border guards of the mass killing of migrants along the Yemeni border.

According to the HRW report titled They Fired On Us Like Rain, migrants say they were shot at and sometimes targeted with explosive weapons by Saudi police and soldiers on Yemen's rugged northern border with Saudi Arabia.

In some instances, Saudi border guards asked migrants what limb to shoot and then shot them at close range. Saudi border guards also fired explosive weapons at migrants who were attempting to flee back to Yemen.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 42 people, including 38 Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023, and 4 relatives or friends of those who tried to cross during that period. Human Rights Watch analyzed over 350 videos and photographs posted to social media or gathered from other sources and several hundred square kilometers of satellite imagery.

“Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,” said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Spending billions buying up professional golf, football clubs, and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not deflect attention from these horrendous crimes.”

In the report, people traveling in groups described being attacked by mortar projectiles and other explosive weapons from the direction of Saudi border guards once they had crossed the border. Those interviewed described 28 incidents with Saudi border guards using explosive weapons. Survivors said the Saudis sometimes held them in detention facilities, in some cases for months.

All described scenes of horror: women, men, and children’s bodies strewn across the mountainous landscape, severely injured, already dead, and dismembered. “First, I was eating with people, and then they were dying,” said one person. “There are some people who you cannot identify because their bodies are thrown everywhere. Some people were torn in half.”