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14 Nigerian pilgrims die in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj in 2023

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According to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Nigeria has lost 14 pilgrims in Saudi Arabia since the start of the ongoing 2023 hajj operation.

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Dr. Usman Galadima, Chief of Operations and Head of the NAHCON National Medical Team, said this on Sunday during a post-Arafat meeting with stakeholders in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Galadima stated that seven pilgrims died prior to Arafat, six perished during the five-day Mashair (main Hajj period), and one died after Arafat.

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“We had six reported deaths at Mashair, four in Arafat, and two in Mina.” We had already lost seven pilgrims prior to Arafat, and I was now informed that we had lost another. This raises the total number of deaths to 14.

“The mortality rate is similar to that of 2019,” he explained.

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He also reported that the medical team discovered three cases of chickenpox during the core hajj time, and that the affected pilgrims were quickly taken out of the area to prevent the disease from spreading.

Galadima further said that the team documented two deliveries during the hajj rite in Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah, adding that one of the pregnant ladies delivered on the road and the second was transported to the clinic and safely delivered.

He underlined the importance of a complete pre-hajj medical screening, which would result in the issue of a certificate of medical fitness.

He further stated that due of the stress involved, elderly pilgrims and the severely sick should be prevented from participating in the symbolic demon stoning at Jamrat.

The NAHCON Head of Aviation, Alhaji Goni Sanda, revealed in his presentation that the transfer of pilgrims back to Nigeria would begin on Tuesday, July 4.

He stated that the first in, first out principle would be strictly followed in the evacuation of the pilgrims back to Nigeria.

He also stated that the Saudi authorities have a policy that air carriers will not operate at full capacity for the first two weeks due to the volume of traffic and the large number of aircraft involved in the evacuation of pilgrims from various countries, as well as the fact that virtually all planes will take off from the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

He indicated that for the first two weeks of the pilgrim transportation operation, Flynas will only use four of its six planes, with the other two undergoing checks and maintenance.

In addition, NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Hardawa, stated that the commission has committed to guarantee that pilgrims fully comply with its luggage regulations throughout their return journey to Nigeria.

He recalled a breach in 2022, but promised that such breaches would not be tolerated this year in order to ensure a smooth operation.

He condemned the attitude of certain pilgrims, notably females, who arrive at the airport with many bags in the guise of hand luggage, warning that the situation would not be tolerated this time.

As a result, he urged officials from state pilgrimage boards to tell their pilgrims of the rules in order to minimize problems and unnecessary delays at the airport.

“Airline operators have been outraged by some pilgrims’ inappropriate behavior, which endangers the lives of other passengers on the plane.” It will not be business as usual this time.

“And, in order to avoid losing valuables at the airport, pilgrims should adhere to the 32kg luggage policy or use the cargo window.”

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