Saudi deports 1 000s of Somalis

2010-12-23 12:50

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia has deported thousands of Somali illegal immigrants including children directly into the war zone of Mogadishu, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, branding the policy "inhumane."

HRW said about 2 000 Somalis were believed to have been sent back to Mogadishu in June and July, and it cited press reports as saying another 150 were sent to the war-torn east African coastal city on December 17.

"Deporting anyone to a war zone like Mogadishu is inhumane, but returning children is beyond comprehension," HRW's Africa director Rona Peligal said in a statement.

"The Saudi authorities should immediately stop these deportations and ensure that Somalis in Saudi Arabia are not returned to their country."

The fighting between Islamist militia groups and the Somali Transitional Federal Government in recent years has sent hundreds of thousands fleeing from Mogadishu.

HRW said international law forbids the forcible return of refugees to any place they face further persecution, torture or other ill-treatment.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees called in May for governments not to return Somali refugees to south or central Somalia because of the "risk of serious harm", the New York-based HRW noted.