Saudi erects steel fence to prevent smuggling [Archives:2008/1184/Local News]

August 25 2008

Saddam Al-Ashmori
For The Yemen Times

SANA'A, Aug. 22 ) The Saudi Border Guards Authority has announced the completion of a steel fence to prevent Yemenis from infiltrating Saudi Arabia and protect Saudi villages adjacent to the Yemeni border from smuggling.

Saudi's Okadh newspaper reported that by erecting this fence around Saudi villages, the Saudi Border Guards leadership is seeking to prevent smuggling and infiltration activities that occur in the region, particularly at night.

The leader of Jazan district's Saudi Border Guards maintains that the authority installed the steel fence to prevent smugglers from entering the villages of Al-Khawjarah, Mabkharah and Al-Hizb.

The newspaper noted that these villages have witnessed extensive smuggling operations, particularly flour smuggling, which has created a crisis in that region, where the price of a bag of flour currently sells for 70 Saudi Riyals (YR 3,735).

Yemen-Saudi border checkpoints are a source of concern for Saudi security authorities as dozens of Yemenis illegally enter Saudi Arabia in search of work, in addition to thieves and weapons smugglers.

Security sources from the Saudi-Yemen border note that the number of poor Yemenis entering Saudi Arabia illegally has increased notably during the past few days due to poor people seeking to beg in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan.

The same sources report that thousands of poor Yemenis infiltrate Saudi Arabia either on foot or on the vehicles of Yemeni and Saudi smuggling brokers.

Among the poor are women and children seeking work or begging, especially during Ramadan, in order to cover their families' needs for an entire year.

This newly erected fence comes at a time when the phenomenon of child trafficking and illegal immigration into Saudi Arabia has aggravated, despite the Yemeni government's efforts to end such practices, in cooperation with charitable organizations, because many poor Yemenis, particularly women and children, are intimidated and sexually harassed by smugglers.

They also face numerous hazards while attempting to escape Saudi police, who chase them down within Saudi Arabia.

Attempted infiltrations have increased among Yemenis living in governorates near the Saudi border, particularly where they can enter Saudi Arabia on foot, for example, via Hajjah governorate's Haradth pass.

Illegal entries in regions near Al-Buq'a district south of Sa'ada are facilitated by brokers, who use their vehicles to traffic Yemenis across the border. Both Saudi and Yemeni border guards often aid such smugglers.

The Yemeni-Saudi border demarcation committee recently completed marking 863 main and sub-points extending for 1,300 kilometers along the border between the two countries.