Middle East

Qatar camels caught up in Gulf crisis

Camels cross Saudi Arabia's remote desert border into Qatar. Photo: 20 June 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Big herds of camels have been seen crossing Saudi Arabia's desert border into Qatar in recent days

Saudi Arabia has said all camels and sheep owned by Qataris must leave its pastureland, in a growing row between Qatar and other Gulf states.

Qatari officials say that about 15,000 camels and 10,000 sheep have already crossed the border.

An emergency makeshift shelter with water tanks and fodder has been set up in Qatar.

Many Qataris keep their cattle in Saudi Arabia, because the tiny Gulf kingdom does not have enough pastures.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab states cut diplomatic ties and all transport links with Qatar over the kingdom's alleged support for Islamic extremism.

Qatar rejects the accusations.

The Qatari ministry of municipality and environment says the makeshift shelter will operate until more suitable areas are prepared.

Animal experts, drivers and other personnel are already at the site to provide any assistance to animal owners, the ministry says.

Qatari official Jassim Qattan told al-Raya website on Monday that 25,000 camels and sheep had already returned to Qatar.

Videos posted on social media in recent days show big herds of camels crossing Saudi Arabia's desert border.

Until now, the Saudi authorities put no restrictions on Qatari-owned animals grazing on Saudi pastureland.

The latest move by Riyadh has triggered angry reaction among Qatari herdsmen.

"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," Ali Magareh, 40, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"We don't want to be involved in these political things. We are not happy," he added.

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