African migrants in Saudi Arabia
Thousands of African migrant workers in Saudi Arabia have been locked up in horrific conditions in an apparent attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In an expose first revealed by the British Sunday Telegraph newspaper, photographs were leaked showing dozens of half-naked emaciated men crowded together into small rooms with barred windows. Detainees told journalists that they barely had enough food and water to survive.
The mainly Ethiopian men are seen in the photos living in hellish conditions. One image appears to show a dead body on the floor, reportedly that of a young man who died of heatstroke. Another photo shows a young man hanging himself, after he “lost hope”, according to fellow detainees.
Others showed scars and injuries resulting from abuse from guards.
One of the men told the Telegraph: “It’s hell in here. We are treated like animals and beaten every day.”
He added: “My only crime is leaving my country in search of a better life. But they beat us with whips and electric cords as if we were murderers.”
Another of the Ethiopian men told the Telegraph: “A young boy, about 16, managed to hang himself last month. The guards just throw the bodies out back as if it was trash.”
Detainees also claimed that disease was rife and toilets “overflowing”. Many had been due to be deported months ago, but were instead held captive.
Many of the detainees are thought to be migrant workers rounded up from cities, while others are refugees from war-torn Yemen.
Migrant workers are the backbone of the Saudi economy. They should be treated with the respect they deserve for making the kingdom what it is.
Saudi Arabia has enough money to provide decent healthcare and accommodation to all of these migrants. The international community should put pressure on the regime to ensure it complies with such standards. We call on Saudi Arabia to treat these migrants with a basic level of respect and humanity, not inflict such terrible horrors upon them when they have committed no crime.