| Welcome to Global Village Space

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

83% of deaths during Hajj 2024 were unauthorized pilgrims

The 2024 Hajj pilgrimage saw an alarming number of deaths, with 83% of the deceased being unauthorized pilgrims who lacked official permits.

The 2024 Hajj pilgrimage saw an alarming number of deaths, with 83% of the deceased being unauthorized pilgrims who lacked official permits. The tragic toll has raised serious concerns about the enforcement of regulations and the role of deceptive practices by tourism companies.

High Mortality Among Unauthorized Pilgrims

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior reported that out of the 1,301 total deaths during the Hajj pilgrimage, 1,079 were individuals without official permits. The ministry emphasized the significance of these permits, which are crucial for facilitating access to pilgrims and ensuring their safety and well-being. The absence of a permit not only complicates the provision of necessary services and healthcare but also exposes unauthorized pilgrims to severe risks, including extreme heat conditions.

Read More: Pilgrims Face Heat Wave During Hajj: Many Die, Others Missing

Deceptive Practices by Tourism Companies

Colonel Talal bin Abdul Mohsen bin Shalhoub, the security spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, highlighted the deceptive practices by some tourism companies. These companies issued non-Hajj-specific visas, misleading pilgrims into believing they could participate in the pilgrimage. As a result, many unauthorized pilgrims faced significant hardships, including walking long distances under the scorching sun without adequate shelter or support.

In Egypt, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly took decisive action against 16 tourism companies found to have facilitated unauthorized pilgrimages. The companies were stripped of their licenses, and their managers were referred to the public prosecutor. The Egyptian cabinet noted that 658 Egyptians died during the Hajj, with 630 being unauthorized pilgrims. The rise in deaths was attributed to companies that organized Hajj programs using personal visit visas, which do not grant official access to Makkah.

Extreme Heat Exacerbates Mortality

This year’s Hajj took place amid intense heat, with temperatures in Makkah soaring to 51.8°C (125.2°F). The extreme weather conditions were a significant factor in the high mortality rate, particularly among unauthorized pilgrims who lacked access to amenities such as air-conditioned tents. The Saudi national meteorological center confirmed that heat-related issues were the primary cause of death for many pilgrims.

The Saudi health minister, Fahd Al-Jalajel, described the management of the Hajj as “successful” despite the tragic toll. He highlighted the health system’s efforts to provide specialized treatment services, including to those without official authorization to perform Hajj. The ministry reported addressing numerous cases of heat stress, with some individuals still receiving care.

Preventive Measures and Future Outlook

In response to the high mortality rate, Saudi authorities have intensified efforts to enforce regulations and prevent unauthorized pilgrimages. The General Directorate of Public Security continuously updates its social media accounts with warnings against fake Hajj campaigns and the penalties for violators. Colonel Shalhoub praised the corrective actions taken by some countries against deceptive companies and the proactive measures implemented to prevent future violations.

Read More: More than 550 pilgrims died due to heat during Hajj

The Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for all Muslims who can afford it, and Saudi Arabia allocates permits based on a quota system distributed through a lottery. Despite the risks, the steep costs of official permits drive many pilgrims to attempt the Hajj without authorization. Saudi authorities reported that approximately 400,000 unregistered pilgrims participated in this year’s Hajj, with a significant number coming from Egypt.