Residents of the Sinai city of St. Catherine have complained they are struggling to survive following the closure of the city’s 1,500-year-old monastery two months ago, reports Al-Monitor.

Egypt’s government ordered the monastery shut in early July after suspicions it was to be attacked.

This is only the third time the monastery has closed in 50 years. Father Paolos, a member of the monastery’s Holy Council, told Al-Monitor they are “suffering a major financial crisis, and we cannot cover the monastery’s expenses and dozens of families that we constantly support”.

The monastery employs 400 workers, but Fr. Paolos says salaries will have to be cut “drastically” if the government fails to sanction the reopening of the popular tourist site.