Middle East

Camels left without food, water at Saudi Arabia's border by the thousands, owners say

Qatari-owned camels were left starving and nearly dead at the country’s border with Saudi Arabia after the diplomatic feud between the two countries led Saudi officials to block the animals from entering, according to their owners.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations that the Persian Gulf country funded terrorism and the country’s relationship with Iran. Qatar has denied funding terrorist groups.

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The Gulf Arab states halted trade as well as air and sea traffic, and deported thousands of Qatari camels. The camels were stranded at the Saudi-Qatar border with minimal food and water, Foreign Policy reported. Some of the animals were close to death despite being able to survive for long periods of time without drinking water.

Last week, Reuters reported that thousands of the trapped camels were given back to their owners.

Qatari officials reportedly were enraged after seeing pictures of the starving camels in local media and sent food and water to the border.

The camels were normally kept in the Saudi Arabian desert during the winter so owners could train and breed the animals.

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“We fought wars over camels,” Ali Magareh, a Qatari camel owner, told Reuters. “It’s one of our traditions. Not having camels in Qatar is like being a cowboy who has no cows.”

“We just want to live out our days, to go to Saudi Arabia and take care of our camels and go back and take care of our family. We don’t want to be involved in these political things. We are not happy.”