Hundreds of Pakistani Umrah pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia seek govt help
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Hundreds of Umrah pilgrims who are stranded in Saudi Arabia for several days have appealed to the Pakistani government to help them.
The Umrah pilgrims, including women, told 92 News that they were stuck in Saudi Arabia after the flight operation was suspended. “At the moment, we have no money for food, medicines and hotel rent. Our visas have expired and our families are worried about us,” they said.
They appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry to take notice of the matter and order immediate arrangements for their return to the homeland.
On April 1, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj minister asked Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage amid uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round “Umrah” pilgrimage over fears of the new coronavirus spreading to Islam’s holiest cities, an unprecedented move that raised uncertainty over the annual hajj. “Saudi Arabia is fully ready to serve pilgrims and Umrah seekers,” Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten told the state-run Al-Ekhbariya television.
“But under the current circumstances, as we are talking about the global pandemic… the kingdom is keen to protect the health of Muslims and citizens and so we have asked our brother Muslims in all countries to wait before doing (Hajj) contracts until the situation is clear.”
Saudi Arabia had suspended prayers inside all its mosques except the two holiest sites in Islam as it increased efforts to contain the new coronavirus.
The announcements risk riling fringe Muslim hardliners, for whom religion trumps health considerations.