Jeddah: Ibrahim Naffee
Published — Thursday 15 August 2013
Last update 15 August 2013 6:11 am
Saudi Border Guards have arrested 259,296 infiltrators — 70 percent of them Yemenis — on the southern border.
Border Guards also apprehended 4,343 smugglers, according to the General Directorate of Border Guards. Border Guards arrested 77,508 infiltrators during the month of Shabaan, 33,005 in Rabi Al-Thani, 25,553 in Muharram, 21,378 in Safar, 28,816 in Rabi Al-Awwal, 26,413 in Jumada Al-Awwal, 24,344 in Jumada Al-Thani and 22,279 infiltrators in Rajab.
In the case of smugglers, the break-up is as follows: 615 smugglers in Rabi Al-Awwal, 607 in Jumada Al-Thani, 489 in Muharram, 537 in Safar, 554 in Rabi Al-Thani, 526 in Jumada Al-Awwal, 533 in Rajab and 478 in Shabaan.
Border Guard Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ghamdi said: “Our inspectors do not check illegal women infiltrators. We have women inspectors to check illegal women who try to enter Saudi borders. A number of neighboring Arab countries are faced with bad economic and security situations, which was the major cause for attempted infiltration.”
With political unrest and growing insecurity in Yemen, there are fears in Saudi Arabia that infiltration attempts by Yemenis into the Kingdom may reach unprecedented levels.
There are also fears that smugglers may increase their activities along the common border, not to mention the many Yemenis who want to escape from war and come to the Kingdom for safety.
“We have dug trenches, fixed barbed wire, planted thermal cameras, introduced the system of fingerprinting (for immigrants) and intensified surveillance by security patrols in a bid to prevent infiltration,” said a border guard who preferred anonymity. “The nature of terrain of the border areas makes it difficult for the two sides to control smuggling operations.”
Yemeni expatriate Ahmad Abdullah, who lives in Jazan, said: “The difficult conditions prevailing in Yemen force people to take the risk of crossing into Saudi Arabia illegally."
He said Yemenis often start their gamble from the Yemeni village of Tawwal, about 100 meters from the border and 80 km from Jazan.
“There are human traffickers who know the area extremely well,” Abdullah said. “They know routes that are difficult for the Saudi Border Guard to discover.”