Small groups of pilgrims performed one of the final rites of the hajj pilgrimage on Friday as Muslims worldwide marked the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday amid the global pandemic.
The last days of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia coincide with the four-day Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, in which Muslims slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.
The pandemic has pushed millions of people around the world closer to the brink of poverty, making it harder for many to fulfil the religious tradition of purchasing livestock.
In Somalia, the price of meat has slightly increased. Abdishakur Dahir, a civil servant in Mogadishu, said that for the first time he would not be able to afford goat for Eid because of the impact of the virus on work.
“I could hardly buy food for my family,” Dahir said. “We are just surviving for now. Life is getting tougher by the day.”
In some parts of west Africa, the price of a ram has doubled. Livestock sellers, used to doing brisk business in the days before the holiday, said sales have dwindled and those who are buying can’t afford much.
It’s a tough market, Oumar Maiga, a livestock trader in Ivory Coast, said: “We are in a situation we’ve never seen in other years.”
The hajj pilgrimage has also been drastically affected by the virus. Last year, some 2.5 million pilgrims took part but this year as few as 1,000 pilgrims already residing in Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform the hajj.
The Saudi health ministry said there have been no cases of the Covid-19 illness among this year’s pilgrims. The government took numerous precautions, including testing pilgrims for the virus, monitoring their movement with electronic wristbands and requiring them to quarantine before and after the hajj. Pilgrims were selected after applying through an online portal, and all had to be between 20 and 50 years of age.