Saudi Police maltreats Ethiopians during detention and deportation


The Saudi Arabian Government began its deporting of the illegally had gone migrants including Ethiopians, in November.

After several warning and requests issued from the government for such people to voluntarily leave the country and they turned a deaf ear, the government resorted to collecting them, detaining them and deporting them back to their countries, working hand in hand with the peoples’ home governments.

Nevertheless, sources claim that the kingdom has detained around 250,000 people violating its residency laws in the crackdown, with approximately 50,000 already forcibly flown out of the country

However, the Ethiopian deportees on reaching home, they have shared stories of having extremely suffered in the Gulf country, including beatings, being stolen from as well as sleeping in dirty prison camps – reports have shown.

‘The prison cell I was put into was so dirty that some of us fell severely sick. It was like a toilet,’ said Sadiq Ahmed, a former teacher who went to Saudi Arabia five years ago and was detained for 11 days before his deportation. ‘As if this was not enough, we were robbed of our belongings. I came here with nothing. I know lots of people who went insane because of this torment.’

Adam Coogle, the Human Rights Watch researcher said that in interviews with dozens of Yemeni migrants in a previous Saudi crackdown in 2014, many ‘described serious abuses during the process of detention and deportation, including attacks by security forces.’ – The rights group has not documented the current campaign, he said.

Saudi Arabia, just like any other rich Gulf nation, is an attraction for hundreds of thousands of people from poverty stricken East African nations like Ethiopia and Somalia. They pay traffickers for rides in boats across the narrow waters to Yemen, where they make their way by land through a war zone, to Saudi Arabia.

In August, traffickers heaved scores of migrants into the sea off Yemen, leaving more than 50 to drown. In March, more than 30 Somali migrants, including children, were killed — apparently in a helicopter gunship attack by a Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen, reports claim.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen’s shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat.

Those who make it to Saudi Arabia often find employment as domestic workers and farm workers, sending money to support families back home.

Amongst those who entered the country illegally, 72 percent were from Yemen and 26 percent were Ethiopians.

Some of the returnees stress that they were robbed of their possessions by “Saudi police officers” who shared their money between them. Some of the returnees said they saw compatriots being shot and wounded when they tried to escape police roundups. But, the Saudi authorities have not responded to any of the accusations.

‘I stayed in Saudi Arabia for five years just to support my family and other siblings,’ said deportee Fozia Omar.

She explained that she spent one month in prison detained but was luckily allowed to bring her luggage back home with her.

‘We have suffered a lot. I would like to beg my brothers and sisters not to repeat the mistake we already made, in the name of Allah,’ she pleaded to the fellows who had travelling to the Gulf nation in mind.

Ethiopia’s government says more than 14,000 of its citizens have been deported since mid November and 70,000 have returned voluntarily, but the International Organization Migration says the number that has left forcibly or voluntarily since the amnesty period ended in June has reached 96,000.

An estimation of 400,000 Ethiopian migrants had been living in Saudi Arabia.

‘The number of returnees could rise even higher in the coming weeks,’ the IOM said, adding that around $30 million is needed to cover their immediate needs. Those include transportation to final destinations for many of the most vulnerable such as unaccompanied minors, single mothers and those who said they had been abused.

Meles Alem, the spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government continues to work with Saudi officials to bring the citizens home safely.












Reporter: Shamilah Namuddu

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