Thousands of Ethiopians kept in inhumane and life-threatening conditions in Saudi Arabia

Thousands of Ethiopians kept in inhumane and life-threatening conditions in Saudi Arabia

Thousands of Ethiopian migrants detained in Saudi Arabia live in harrowing conditions inside of Saudi prisons, as they crammed into jails that are unsafe, overcrowded and unhealthy and are suffering ill treatment, beatings, and a lack of food and medical care, according to a report published by France 24 Arabic on Wednesday.

The report noted that the migrants live in miserable conditions to the extent that their lives are threatened.

“Ethiopian migrants are crowded in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons with ill-treatment, beatings, and lack of food and medical care, which led to the death of 10 of them inside detention facilities, including a child in the Shumaisi detention center in Jeddah,” the report said.

It published a number of photos and videos showing a very frail man and prisoners forced to sleep on the floor near dirty toilets.

According to Arafat Jibril Bakrii, the head of the Oromo Human Rights Organisation (the Oromo are an ethnic group in Ethiopia), the detainees received only a small piece of bread and water, which in turn is distributed in scarce quantities.

At the beginning of June, the Saudi authorities launched a massive campaign of arrests against Ethiopian immigrants, even those who are in legal residence. Racism and discrimination against people of African descent is a widespread phenomenon in the kingdom.

After the arbitrary measures and a bilateral agreement with Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian authorities have periodically organised evacuation flights for their nationals.

On July 7, 2021, more than 35 flights took place towards Addis Ababa for the evacuation of forty thousand Ethiopians from Saudi Arabia, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The official spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Dean Mufti, stated that his country considered this wave of deportations as one of the ways of pressure used by the Arab League to prevent Ethiopia from building the dam reservoir for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a project that in particular is opposed by Ethiopia’s northern neighbour and Arab League member Egypt.