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Saudi authorities erect barriers on Yemeni border

Yemen Observer

Mohammed al-Kibsi
Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Saudi Authorities commenced constructing a wall on the Saudi-Yemeni border in the district of Harad last Saturday, said a Sheikh from Harad who wished to remain anonymous.

He added that this wall breaks a Yemeni-Saudi treaty declaring the rights of both Yemeni and Saudi citizens to roam freely across the political border due to their need to cultivate crops and allow their animals to graze. The treaty also protects the rights of these citizens to ship their animals as needed.

An aerial photo from Google Earth outlines the proposed route of the Saudi-built wall.
The Marebpress website reported a Yemeni military source as saying that Yemeni border guards tried to stop Saudis from building the new wall. In response, the Saudis mobilized their military and threatened force if they were unable to start construction of the barriers. According to the same source, construction halted last Sunday but the Saudis resumed work on Monday. So far they have built deep tunnels and concrete arches and have laid barbed wire along the frontiers to the south of the Saudi towns of Towal, Masfaq, and Khawjarah.

The military source said that the Saudis informed them that the new barriers are necessary for protecting their borders against an influx of illegal immigrants and against the smuggling of drugs and weapons. 

Local sources from Harad affirmed that more than 3000 tribesmen from villages adjacent to the areas where the new barriers are being built gathered on Saturday and Monday to rally against the new barrier, claiming it would harm their interests by preventing them from crossing to the other side of the borders to visit their relatives and cultivate their farms there.

Thousands of Yemenis and Africans are believed to have been leaking through the borders to Saudi Arabia daily.
Of the untold numbers of Somali and Ethiopian refugees that arrive on the shores of Yemen daily, those who make their way to Saudi Arabia usually travel through the Harad district. Those still in Yemen hear from the odd ones who make it to Saudi Arabia and believe that the trip is possible for them too.

Since Yemen itself offers few job prospects for the migrants, most head to Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states, where the need for menial labor is much greater.  In addition to Somalis and Ethiopians, hundreds of Yemeni children have been trafficked through this area in the past decade.

In 2007 alone, more than 60,000 Yemenis were deported from Saudi Arabia due to illegal immigration claims. The majority of them, 35,000, were deported through Harad, while 25,000 were deported through the al-Hodiedah seaport. 

Source: Yemen Observer