Skip to main content

Camels weep as their young perish in Syria’s killer drought

Camels are a miserable canary in the coal mine of Syria, which is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years.
Camels in Raqqa

AL-AJAJ, RAQQA, Syria — A baby camel moans in anguish as it sits in a muddy manger, its forelegs folded under its emaciated frame. Its large dark eyes are wet with tears as the creature gazes imploringly at its owner. The cries grow louder and longer, then exhaustion prevails.

Like many of the camels in this desolate Bedouin village west of Raqqa, the one-year old is dying of malnutrition and has grown so weak that it can no longer lift itself off the ground. “There is no rain, no water,” said Ayash Shalhoub, a Bedouin camel herder whose tribe has bred camels for centuries. “No rain means no vegetation, hence no food for our camels. If things continue this way, neither our animals nor we can survive,” he told Al-Monitor on a recent afternoon.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.