Some Ghanaian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have resorted to sleeping under bridges, for lack of accommodation, during the ongoing Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Responding to reports that Ghanaian pilgrims are out on the streets, the Deputy Communications Director for the Hajj Board, Hajia Marian Cissey, blamed the Saudi authorities for the situation in a Citi News interview.
She explained that all the hotel arrangements were made, but two days before the pilgrims left Mecca to Mina in Saudi Arabia, “that was when the Saudi authorities gave out a communique that the arrangements [for accomodation] being done at Mina would be reduced.”
This communique affected all countries embarking on Hajj this year, Hajia Cissey noted.
“The reasons they [the Saudi authorities] gave so far indicates that they are overwhelmed with the numbers coming from all the countries, therefore every country must adjust. That is one of the reasons why we saw some people outside in Mina.”
One of the reasons the pilgrim numbers were inflated, in Ghana’s case, is that Ghanaians living in Saudi Arabia who wanted to perform the Hajj tried to invade the Ghanaian camp.
“Interestingly, they had even printed our bills with Ghana flags behind it. Some of them even had the wrist tags on their wrists so it was so difficult to differentiate whether the person was a Ghanaian or not, even though we did our best to fish out some of them from our tent.”
“This is a perennial problem. It is not particular to this year. It has been going on every year,” Hajia Cissey stated.
Over 100 million people embark on the religious pilgrimage every year. Ghana contributed over 6,000 pilgrims for the 2017 Hajj.