A Gulf rights group Wednesday criticised Saudi Arabia for reportedly building a fence on its border with Yemen and deporting thousands of Yemenis, warning of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe”.
“The building of a 2,000-kilometre (1,243-mile) fence on the Saudi-Yemeni border will impose a real siege on the Yemeni people,” said the Gulf Forum for Civil Societies (GFCS), a pan-Gulf liberal group, on its Twitter account.
The BBC reported on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia is “building a fence, over 1,000 miles long, in order to seal off its troubled frontier with Yemen.”
It quoted Saudi officials as saying the fence was necessary due to deteriorating security in Yemen following the overthrow of veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012, which has allowed illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and gun runners to slip across the border into Saudi Arabia.
The Forum said that the building of the fence coupled with deporting thousands of Yemenis will “certainly cause … a real humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.”
The statement said that Saudi Arabia has completed the first phase of the security fence and described claims that it aims at preventing smugglers as “unconvincing”.
GFCS recalled that during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990-91, Saudi Arabia deported around one million Yemenis from the oil-rich kingdom, warning a similar measure would increase poverty in the already-struggling Arab nation.
A Yemeni official said last week that thousands of Yemeni workers have been expelled by Riyadh after imposing new labour constraints on foreigners.
GFCS said it feared that as many as one million Yemenis might be affected, aggravating the plight of the poor in Yemen where around half of the 25 million population live below the poverty line.
“These policies foster terrorist groups … and will transform Yemen into a time bomb,” said GFCS, calling on international organisations to intervene.