Ethiopians undertaking the perilous journey by boat across the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden face exploitation and torture in Yemen by a network of trafficking groups, Human Rights Watch said today. They also encounter abusive prison conditions in Saudi Arabia before being summarily forcibly deported back to Addis Ababa. Authorities in Ethiopia, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia have taken few if any measures to curb the violence migrants face, to put in place asylum procedures, or to check abuses perpetrated by their own security forces.
A combination of factors, including unemployment and other economic difficulties, drought, and human rights abuses have driven hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians to migrate over the past decade, traveling by boat over the Red Sea and then by land through Yemen to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states are favored destinations because of the availability of employment. Most travel irregularly and do not have legal status once they reach Saudi Arabia.
Massenausweisungen aus Saudi Arabien
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates as many as 500,000 Ethiopians were in Saudi Arabia when the Saudi government began a deportation campaign in November 2017. The Saudi authorities have arrested, prosecuted, or deported foreigners who violate labor or residency laws or those who crossed the border irregularly. About 260,000 Ethiopians, an average of 10,000 per month, were deported from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia between May 2017 and March 2019, according to the IOM, and deportations have continued.
An August 2 Twitter update by Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said that police had arrested 3.6 million people, including 2.8 million for violations of residency rules, 557,000 for labor law violations, and 237,000 for border violations. In addition, authorities detained 61,125 people for crossing the border into Saudi Arabia illegally, 51 percent of them Ethiopians, and referred more than 895,000 people for deportation. Apart from illegal border crossing, these figures are not disaggregated by nationality.
Der HRW Bericht beruht auf Daten der IOM sowie auf 11 Interviews mit Männern, die aus Saudi Arabien nach Äthiopien deportiert worden waren. Was sie nach der Überfahrt in den Jemen erlebt hatten, gleicht den Erfahrungen in den libyschen Einrichtungen:
Gewalt in jemenitischen Lagern
Seven of the 11 irregular migrants interviewed said they faced detention and extortion by traffickers in Yemen. This occurred in many cases as soon as they reached shore, as smugglers on boats coordinated with the Yemeni traffickers. Migrants said that Yemeni smuggling and trafficking groups always included Ethiopians, often one from each of Oromo, Tigrayan, and Amhara ethnic groups, who generally were responsible for beating and torturing migrants to extort payments. Migrants were generally held in camps for days or weeks until they could provide ransom money, or escape. Ransom payments were usually made by bank transfers from relatives and contacts back in Ethiopia.
Ausbeutung und Gewalt in saudischen Gefängnissen
Migrants faced new challenges attempting to cross the Saudi-Yemen border. The people interviewed said that the crossing points used by smugglers are in rural, mountainous areas where the border separates Yemen’s Saada Governorate and Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Province. Two said that smugglers separated Ethiopians by their ethnic group and assigned different groups to cross at different border points. […]
Two of the five interviewees who crossed the border without being detained said that Saudi and Ethiopian smugglers and traffickers took them to informal detention camps in southern Saudi towns and held them for ransom. “Yonas” said they took him and 14 others to a camp in the Fayfa area of Jizan Province: “They beat me daily until I called my family. They wanted 10,000 Birr ($349). My father sold his farmland and sent the 10,000 Birr, but then they told me this isn’t enough, we need 20,000 ($698). I had nothing left and decided to escape or die.” He escaped.
Following their capture, the migrants described abusive conditions in Saudi governmental detention centers and prisons, including overcrowding and inadequate food, water, and medical care. Migrants also described beatings by Saudi guards.
Nine migrants who were captured while crossing the border illegally or living in Saudi Arabia without documentation spent up to five months in detention before authorities deported them back to Ethiopia. The three others were convicted of criminal offenses that included human trafficking and drug smuggling, resulting in longer periods in detention before being deported.
The migrants identified about 10 prisons and detention centers where they were held for various periods. The most frequently cited were a center near the town of al-Dayer in Jizan Province along the border, Jizan Central Prison in Jizan city, and the Shmeisi Detention Center east of Jeddah, where migrants are processed for deportation.