The deadline for Qataris to leave neighboring Persian Gulf Arab states came into effect on Monday as the diplomatic standoff persisted with no end in sight despite multiple efforts at mediation.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and announced that Qatari residents would have 14 days to leave. They also urged their own citizens in Qatar to leave and threatened imprisonment and fines for anyone who criticizes the measures.
Officials later clarified there would be exceptions for mixed-nationality families in the Gulf, where tribes span across national borders. Saudi Arabia also said it would not bar Qataris wanting to perform the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Rights group Amnesty International said, however, such measures are “clearly insufficient to address the human rights impact of the arbitrary, blanket measures.”
Prior to the diplomatic row, Qatari nationals could travel visa-free between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. Qatar has said it has no plans to expel Gulf nationals residing there.
The United Nations human rights chief last week criticized the expulsion of Qataris, saying people risk losing access to their homes and jobs, and students cannot sit for exams.