2023 Hajj: 14 Nigerian Pilgrims Die In Saudi Arabia

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced that a total of 14 Nigerian pilgrims have lost their lives in Saudi Arabia since the commencement of the ongoing 2023 Hajj operation. Dr. Usman Galadima, the Chief of Operations and Head of the NAHCON National Medical Team, shared this information during a meeting with stakeholders in Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following the Arafat rituals on Sunday.

According to Galadima, seven pilgrims passed away prior to the Arafat ceremony, while six lost their lives during the core Hajj period known as Mashair, which spans five days. Additionally, one more individual passed away after the Arafat ritual.

We have received reports of six deaths at Mashair, with four occurring in Arafat and the remaining two in Mina. Prior to reaching Arafat, we had already lost seven pilgrims, and I regret to inform you that we have just been informed of the loss of another pilgrim. This unfortunate news brings the total recorded deaths to 14.
According to the statement, the mortality rate is comparable to that of 2019.”

During the core hajj period, it was disclosed that three cases of chickenpox were recorded by the medical team. As a precautionary measure against the spread of the disease, the affected pilgrims were promptly relocated from the area.

Furthermore, it was revealed that two deliveries took place during the hajj ritual in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.

One of the pregnant women gave birth on the road, while the second woman safely delivered at a clinic.
The importance of comprehensive pre-hajj medical screenings was emphasized, along with the issuance of a certificate of medical fitness.

Additionally, it was advised that elderly and severely ill pilgrims should refrain from participating in the symbolic devil stoning at Jamrat due to the associated stress.

In the presentation by Alhaji Goni Sanda, the Head of Aviation at NAHCON, it was announced that the transportation of pilgrims back to Nigeria would commence on Tuesday, July 4. The policy of “first in, first out” would be strictly followed during the evacuation process.

It was further explained that the Saudi authorities had implemented a policy for the initial two weeks, wherein air carriers would not operate at full capacity due to high traffic volume and the involvement of numerous aircraft in the evacuation process. Additionally, all planes would depart from the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

During the initial two weeks, Flynas, the airline, would utilize only four out of its six aircraft for the operation, as the remaining two were undergoing maintenance and checks.

Furthermore, Alhaji Abdullahi Hardawa, the Commissioner of Operations at NAHCON, affirmed the commission’s determination to enforce its luggage policy during the return journey to Nigeria.

He recalled a breach in 2022 and assured that such violations would not be tolerated this year to ensure a seamless operation.

He expressed concern about the behavior of some pilgrims, particularly females, who arrived at the airport with multiple bags disguised as hand luggage.

He warned that such actions would not be accepted this time and urged officials of state pilgrims boards to inform their pilgrims about the policy to prevent any inconvenience or unnecessary delays at the airport.

By Chinedu

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