16,000 livestock stranded amidst political conflict on vessel

01 February 20242 min reading

A ship carrying 14,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle, initially bound for Israel, finds itself in limbo as geopolitical tensions force a diversion. The animals, stranded since January 5, face uncertainty as the Australian government deliberates their fate. The incident underscores the ethical implications of prolonged journeys for live animals.

The MV Bahijah, en route from Australia to Israel, altered its course due to the threat of attack by Yemen's Houthi militia, ultimately docking in Australia. Now, 16,000 livestock remain aboard, caught in the crossfire of geopolitical tensions and a brewing animal welfare controversy.

According to the Australian agriculture ministry, the ship has docked, but decisions regarding unloading or resuming the journey are pending. Despite government assurances of good health, animal welfare advocates, including Senator Mehreen Faruqi, denounce the situation as "torture" for the stranded sheep and cattle, exposed to scorching summer conditions.

The exporter, Bassem Dabbah Ltd, awaits approval to unload some animals or reroute the rest around Africa to Israel. Australia's strict biosecurity rules mandate potential quarantines for any unloaded livestock.

As the world watches, the incident underscores the broader impact of geopolitical unrest on global trade and highlights the ethical concerns associated with extended voyages for live animals. The ship's manager, Korkyra Shipping, and Bassem Dabbah remained unavailable for comment at the time of reporting.

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