Saudi Arabia mistreating Oromo refugees, detaining them in life-threatening conditions as many flee Ethiopia over human rights abuses

Oromo refugees are being mistreated and detained in life-threatening conditions in Saudi Arabia, said a joint statement from the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress released Monday.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince 

“We would like to inform the international community that Oromia refugees in Saudi Arabia and Republic of Yemen are repeatedly mistreated and handled in debilitating situations in recent years,” said the statement.

At least hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians have fled to Saudia Arabia in recent years to seek refuge from deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions at home, which have been exacerbated by widespread human rights abuses.

“According to the information we received from the detention centers in Saudi Arabia, huge number of Oromia refugees are suffering from below standard detention conditions in prisons,” said the statement Monday.

The Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress, in their joint statement, detailed inhumane and life-threatening living conditions for detained Oromo refugees in Saudi Arabia. 

“The people in detentions include children, pregnant women, old age, and people with different sorts of disabilities who are susceptible to various type of diseases and infections caused by overcrowded, unhygienic and suffocated detention conditions,” they said.

The statement asserted that refugees are packed into small overcrowded rooms, potentially exposed to the coronavirus, and deprived of adequate food, water, sanitation, and medicine.

The OLF and OFC are strongly condemning the actions of Saudi Arabia and calling on the international community to pressure the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into rectifying the situation and prioritizing basic human rights in their facilities.

The joint statement also raised concern over inaction from the Ethiopian ruling group and embassy in Saudi Arabia, which consider Oromo political refugees to be largely adversarial to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his administration.

“It seems that the Ethiopia Embassy in Saudi Arabia is intentionally silent while the Oromia refugees in detention are suffering and dying as obviously most of the refugees are oppositions to the ruling group,” it said.

As countless Oromos and Ethiopians have been forced to flee their homes due to human rights abuses, atrocities, and ongoing conflicts, many Oromo leaders are concerned that refugees are also subject to unacceptable and inhumane living conditions in Saudi Arabia as well. 

Many Oromos fear that they have no place to go as the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate at home and the nearby Saudi Arabian government imposes horrible conditions on refugees in its detainment centers.

The Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Federalist Congress are calling on Oromos around the world and human rights proponents to “make the voices of these Oromia refugees heard as they are in extreme danger at this time.”

Explaining that the detrimental impact of conflict and crises in Ethiopia extends far beyond its national borders, the OLF and OFC asserted, “The crisis in Ethiopia is not only ruining the existences of those in the country, but also the country’s ruling system impairs are extended to the refugee hosting countries and citizens are unable to survive at least as refugees in some countries including Arabian states.”

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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