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Hajj: 95% of Nigerian pilgrims already airlifted to Saudi, says group

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A faith-based group under the auspices of Independent Hajj Reporters, IHR, has said that about 95% of intending pilgrims for this year’s Hajj have been airlifted to Saudi Arabia and commended the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON officials from the 36 states and the airlines involved in the airlifting for a seamless exercise so far.

This was just as it called on the officials to double their efforts and tackle recurring challenges, especially with the quality and quantity of food being served to pilgrims as well as their accommodation arrangements in both Madinah and Makkah.

The group, in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Ibrahim Muhammad and issued on Friday, noted that “about 95% of intending pilgrims have so far been airlifted to Saudi Arabia by the selected airlines with little or no incident, this is most commendable.”

“Commendation must particularly go to the states for always mobilising their pilgrims to camp ahead of their trip which is a departure from the past. We urge all concern to continue in that regard,” it added

IHR said the decision by Saudi authorities to force countries to process visas for their pilgrims and sign service contracts way ahead of time also helped the cause of this year’s Hajj airlift.

On the quality and quantity of food being served to pilgrims, the group recalled that “there were numerous complaints of insufficient ration of food and poor quality by pilgrims”, stressing the need for an all-inclusive proactive approach to solve the problem by NAHCON and states.

It also called for a faster process of allocating bed spaces to pilgrims in both Makkah and Madinah.

“After spending some time at Hajj transit camps and flying for about 5-6 hours, it is not good for pilgrims to be made to wait for a long time to be allocated bed spaces, the whole idea of sending an advanced team of officials is to ensure issues such as these do not occur. All involved should therefore up the ante and do the needful,” IHR advised.

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