At least three people died in detention centres housing thousands of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia, rights group Amnesty International says.
The migrants were facing “unimaginable cruelty” – including being chained together in pairs, and using their cells floors as toilets, the rights group said.
It also urged Saudi authorities to improve conditions of the centres.
The detainees were expelled from neighbouring Yemen.
The migrants from Ethiopia and other countries had been working in northern Yemen but were forced out by Houthi rebels, Amnesty said.
According to UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), some 2,000 Ethiopians remain stranded on the Yemeni side of the border, without food, water or healthcare.
Thousands of Ethiopians go to Saudi Arabia for work, making the kingdom nation a key investor and source of foreign remittances for Ethiopia.
There were up to 500,000 illegal migrants from Ethiopia in the country when Saudi authorities began the operation in 2017, according to the IOM.
At least 10,000 Ethiopians on average were being deported each month, but earlier this year Ethiopian officials requested a moratorium because of the coronavirus pandemic, news agency AFP reports.
In recent months, Ethiopia has struggled to create enough space in quarantine to welcome the people back and make sure that they are not bringing coronavirus with them.