Egypt provides support to Hajj families amid rising deaths



Sat, 22 Jun 2024 - 01:37 GMT


Sat, 22 Jun 2024 - 01:37 GMT

Pilgrims stone Jamrat Al-Aqabah on first day of Eidul Adha amid smooth movement

Pilgrims stone Jamrat Al-Aqabah on first day of Eidul Adha amid smooth movement

CAIRO – 22 June 2024: Mostafa Madbouly, Prime Minister of Egypt, chaired a crisis management meeting formed by the directive of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.


The meeting aimed to follow up and manage the situation concerning the deaths of Egyptian pilgrims during Hajj. Attendees included Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, Minister of Endowments; Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Health and Population; Mahmoud Tawfik, Minister of Interior; Nevine El-Qabbaj, Minister of Social Solidarity; Lieutenant General Mohamed Abbas Helmy, Minister of Civil Aviation (via video conference); Ahmed Issa, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; Ambassador Ismail Khairat, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Consular Affairs and Egyptians Abroad; Major General Ahmed Shaheen, representative of the Armed Forces Morale Affairs Department; and Major General Hossam Abu Al-Majd, representative of the Armed Forces Operations Authority, along with other officials.


At the start of the meeting, Madbouly extended the Cabinet's deepest condolences to the families of the deceased pilgrims, reaffirming the commitment to provide necessary support during this sorrowful event.


The Prime Minister emphasized that this crisis management meeting, as directed by the President, aims to monitor the conditions of Egyptian pilgrims, support the families of the deceased, coordinate with Saudi authorities to facilitate procedures related to the deceased, and ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent such incidents from recurring.


Madbouly directed immediate action against companies or entities that facilitated the travel of these pilgrims through unofficial means. He stressed the need to establish frameworks and regulations to prevent such occurrences in the future.


The Prime Minister noted that the total number of the official Egyptian delegation exceeds 50,000 pilgrims. The delegation's status is being monitored around the clock by the responsible officials. However, there is a significant number of non-regular pilgrims whose details are not recorded with any relevant ministries, the consulate, or the medical mission.


In this context, Madbouly affirmed that the official delegation is highly organized, with a comprehensive monitoring system in place across all relevant state agencies. So far, 31 deaths have been recorded within the official Hajj delegation due to chronic illnesses.


Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated that most of the deceased pilgrims were non-regular pilgrims, for whom the travel companies did not provide any services. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely monitoring the situation of Egyptian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.


The Egyptian consulate in Jeddah and multiple task forces dispatched to Mecca and the holy sites are coordinating with Saudi authorities and conducting field visits to hospitals to gather data on Egyptian citizens receiving treatment or who have passed away. These efforts are being matched with data from families reporting missing relatives to ensure proper care for the patients and allocate consular missions at key hospitals.


Shoukry highlighted that emergency rooms designated for quick response are operating around the clock, and citizens can reach out through announced contact numbers. Efforts are ongoing in coordination with Saudi authorities to locate missing Egyptian citizens as quickly as possible and secure the safe return of all Egyptian pilgrims.


Minister of Interior Mahmoud Tawfik pointed out that it is crucial to distinguish between official and unofficial, or non-regular, Hajj. While the official Hajj operates smoothly each year, issues arise with non-regular Hajj due to unauthorized practices. He elaborated on the causes of these problems and the measures required to address them.


During the meeting, the Ministry of Health and Population presented a report on the Egyptian medical mission's work during this year's Hajj. The mission provided all necessary preventive and therapeutic services through a team of 170 members, including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and paramedics. The mission ensured full coordination with Saudi health authorities to deliver high-quality medical services.


The Health Ministry added that the Egyptian medical mission was equipped with 10.6 tons of various medications and medical supplies. The mission offered primary medical services through 26 specialized clinics attached to hotels in Mecca and Medina, treating approximately 23,600 cases. The report also included the status of cases referred to hospitals for advanced treatment and ongoing monitoring of hospitalized pilgrims.


Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa discussed the status of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage organized by travel agencies. He asserted that any travel company found to have promised unauthorized Hajj services would have its license revoked immediately, and its officials would be referred to the public prosecutor for fraud.


Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj reviewed the situation of charity-sponsored Hajj and the services provided by the ministry to these pilgrims. She emphasized the high-level coordination within the official Egyptian delegation, including the Interior, Tourism, and Solidarity Ministries, with the Health Ministry assisting all pilgrims with healthcare.


During the meeting, a report from the crisis management technical secretariat was reviewed. The report attributed the high number of deaths among unregistered pilgrims to certain travel companies organizing Hajj programs with personal visit visas, which prevented the holders from entering Mecca. This led to pilgrims walking through desert routes on foot without proper accommodations, exposing them to exhaustion due to high temperatures.



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