Saudi Arabia held nearly 5.7 million in immigration sweep

Saudi Arabia has arrested nearly 5.7 million over residency, labour violations since 2017: report
1 min read
27 June, 2021
Rights groups have accused Saudi authorities of targeting Ethiopian migrants and arresting those with permission to remain in the kingdom.
Rights groups have urged Riyadh to release immigration detainees [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has arrested close to 5.7 million people since 2017 in relation to residency, employment and immigration violations, according to an official report. 

Since Riyadh began a clampdown in November 2017, 5,651,619 people have been arrested, including 803,186 over labour violations, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The report said that 54 percent of people arrested while attempting to cross into the kingdom were Ethiopian citizens, while 43 percent were from Yemen.

A further 9,550 people were arrested for attempting to cross into neighbouring countries.

Penalties were issued against 715,216 people, while 1,559,919 were deported from the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's detention of migrants has drawn criticism from rights groups, who have accused the kingdom of keeping people in squalid, overcrowded conditions throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Euro-Mediterranean Monitor human rights group said that Saudi Arabia has detained Ethiopians living in the kingdom regardless of immigration status.

The group urged Riyadh immediately and unconditionally release all detainees and end its alleged targeting of Ethiopians.