Houthis force African migrants to cross into Saudi Arabia amid coronavirus pandemic

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The Houthi militia has been forcing hundreds of African migrants to cross the border from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, according to videos posted by activists on social media and the official spokesperson of the Arab Coalition.

Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of migrants crossing a border into Saudi Arabia with gunfire being heard at some point in the background.

“The Iranian-backed Houthi militias are trying to take advantage of the global situation in light of the global coronavirus pandemic to force these migrants out of Yemen and into Saudi Arabia,” Colonel Turki al-Maliki said in an interview with Al Arabiya.

“The Houthis are forcing the illegal immigrants by firing at them in Saada to move toward the borders of Saudi Arabia,” al-Maliki confirmed.

Read more - Arab Coalition: Houthis trying to exploit world’s preoccupation with coronavirus

Al-Maliki pointed toward reports from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that showed that the number of illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa countries has exceeded 200,000 people in Yemen.

Last month, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix monitored at least 9,624 African migrants, primarily Ethiopians and Somalis, entering Yemen during February 2020.

Read more: Commander vows to coerce Yemeni tribes to fight alongside Houthis

“Despite the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, in 2018 the migration route to the country from the Horn of Africa across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden continued to be in high use. In 2018, 156 people are known to have drowned in this crossing,” IOM said in its most recent report on world migration.

In a separate development, international rights groups on Monday condemned an attack on a prison in Yemen's besieged city of Taez that left six women and a child dead.

The internationally-recognized government of Yemen has accused the Iran-aligned Houthi militia of carrying out Sunday's attack.

Despite initially saying they would adhere to a ceasefire, the Yemeni Houthi militia fired two ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia late last month.

(With AFP)