Camel Merchants Threaten Cairo Siege
Camel merchants in Egypt have threatened to besiege the Agriculture Ministry and other government buildings in Cairo with their animals if a temporary ban on their trade is not lifted.
"This ban has harmed the livelihood of thousands of people working in the camel trade, mainly in the provinces of the Red Sea and Aswan," Hassan Hafez, who heads an association of camel traders, told Gulf News.
Earlier this month, Egypt's agriculture minister imposed a ban on the trade in camels across the country after a massive outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in Egypt. Thousands of cattle have died from the disease, according to veterinary authorities.
However, camel breeders and merchants say that the ban will affect around 6,000 camels supplied to different areas of the country per week.
The ban was imposed amid rising prices on camels imported from Somalia and Sudan, which accounts for roughly a quarter of a billion dollars in annual trade - and rising meat costs in Egypt.
Camels, colloquially known as "The Ship of the Desert," are important to many African diets and account for 40 percent of Egypt's local meat needs.
Since former President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011, Egypt has been gripped by a series of protests and labor strikes aimed at forcing higher wages and government concessions.