In a dirty cell in Saudi Arabia, an Ethiopian settler spoke on a smuggled phone, fearing revealing his name. About 300 compatriots were imprisoned with him, he said. And no one knows when the Ethiopian government will bring them home.
“We are detained in a very inhumane condition and are sleeping on garbage overflowing from nearby toilets. We really want to go back home, but no one is helping us, including Ethiopian officials.
“We are beaten every day, and our only crime was to seek a better life abroad.”
Thousands of migrants (men, women, and children) from Ethiopia were shot this year in fear of the coronavirus, and new details emerged about the miserable detention situation faced by some people who were chased by gunfire across the border to Saudi Arabia. There is.
A new report released Friday by Amnesty International describes widespread abuse, including beatings and electrocution, in Saudi prisons. The inmates explained that they were connected in pairs and were forced to use the cell floor as a toilet.
In a report by Amnesty researcher Marie Fostier, “The situation surrounded by death and disease was so terrible that at least two people attempted suicide.
“A pregnant woman, a baby and a young child were in the same terrible situation, and the three detainees said they knew the dead children.”
Abuse highlights one of the most popular and dangerous migration routes in the world. The Saudi government did not immediately comment.
Every year, thousands of Ethiopians cross the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden from Somalia or Djibouti, through conflict-torn Yemen, to Saudi Arabia in search of a better life.
Amnesty International says thousands of Ethiopian immigrants are working in northern Yemen, making money in exchange for going to Saudi Arabia.
The new report said, “As the COVID-19 epidemic intensified, Houthi authorities began ordering migrant workers to go to the border, where they reportedly fired between Saudi and Houthi forces.
The International Organization for Migration says about 2,000 Ethiopians are stranded on the Yemen side of the border without food, water and medical services.
Now migrants say they are in a life-threatening situation.
“If I had known this hellish condition was waiting for me, I would not have left my country,” another detained immigrant told the AP. “I felt suicidal in the past. Especially on hot days it is unbearable because there is no air conditioner. And they hit us with an electric cord whenever we complained. And they took all our money and our cell phones.”
He said the Saudi residence card had expired and was detained nine months ago. “What I want now is to go back to Ethiopia, but now it’s just a dream,” he said. The inmates spoke on condition of anonymity because of their fear of safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic complicates repatriation, and Ethiopian authorities say they don’t have the quarantine ability to handle the return of too many people at once.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tsion Teklu told the AP that up to 16,000 Ethiopians are estimated to be held in Saudi prisons. She said about 4,000 have been repatriated since April.
“We are now working to bring about 300 migrants each week to repatriate 2,000 more migrants,” she added, adding that Ethiopia has repatriated about 400,000 people in recent years. “This matter gets more complicated with the fact that some of our repatriated citizens are re-trafficed.”
“If the containment space still remains a serious obstacle, other governments and donors should support Ethiopia to increase the number of spaces so migrants can get out of these hellish conditions as quickly as possible,” Forestier said. “Even the pandemic can’t justify the continued arbitrary detention and abuse of thousands of people.”