The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said it will allow only 60,000 pilgrims from across the world for the 2021 hajj.
It tweeted Sunday that 45,000 pilgrims would be allowed from outside Saudi Arabia and 15,000 from the Kingdom.
The low figure is not unconnected with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Last year, no pilgrim from outside the Kingdom performed the hajj rites. Saudi Arabia Hajj and Umrah Ministry had on May 9, 2021 announced that hajj would be held this year following health and safety precautions.
“Health institutions in Saudi Arabia will continue to assess the situation and take all the measures to preserve the health of all mankind,” the ministry added.
It promised to announce the specific measures and organisational plans at a later date. Last year, against the 2.5 million Muslims that usually travel to Makkah from across the world for the rites, just 1,000 pilgrims were allowed to take part due to COVID-19 restrictions. With borders closed, only those inside Saudi Arabia were able to attend.
Nigeria, before now, used to get about 95,000 hajj quota, but will now have to share 45,000 slots with over 60 countries. This means that less than 1,000 Nigeria will have opportunity to attend.
BUT the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has urged intending pilgrims and general public not to rely on any information about hajj 2021 on social media.
Apparently alluding to a guideline purportedly released by Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health, which recommended standard COVID-19 protocols and number of overseas pilgrims for this year’s hajj.
According to the guidelines, intending pilgrims are restricted to persons between 18 and 60 years of age, compulsory three days isolation on arrival to the holy land and 60,000 pilgrims are to participate in the spiritual exercise, among other conditions.
The guidelines, especially the limited number of overseas contingents recommended for the exercise, had continued to generate mix reaction.
Reacting to the worries, however, spokesperson of the Nigeria hajj mission, Fatima Usara, clarified that the guidelines in circulation were not final for next hajj, adding that they would still be subjected to ratification by Ministry of Hajj.
A statement she signed yesterday indicated that NAHCON, as official body responsible for hajj and Umrah operations in Nigeria, had not sanctioned the Saudi Ministry of Health guidelines.
Usara added: “Until the said ministry of Hajj and Umrah releases the guidelines on its website and formally communicates to Nigeria, NAHCON humbly urges the public to consider the information being circulated as guidelines for 2021 Hajj as inconclusive.”
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