Friday, August 18, 2017

Gambian Pilgrims Left Hungry and Abandoned During Haj in Mecca…

Dear Pa,
I read with dismay your breaking story on the plight of the Gambian pilgrims who have just arrived in Mecca to perform this year’s Hajj. It seems this situation is becoming a regular occurrence and unless action is taken against Ousman Jah and his guides , unscrupulous people will continue to use religion for personal enrichment.
Sleeping in overcrowded rooms, lack of adequate toilet facilities, inadequate amenities at Mina, and widespread starvation have been the major challenges facing Gambians pilgrims  and despite the repeated complaints lodged against the Commission since G.I.A was made the sole travel agent responsible for Hajj operations, hardly every Hajj operation take place without some vociferous complaints from pilgrims. Fulfilling one of the fundamental principle of Islam should not be impossible to perform. Because of some unscrupulous persons are bent on using Islam to enrich themselves, Gambian pilgrims will continue to suffer.
Last year , the money that was included in the package of D 220,000 for the cost of sheep that each pilgrim is required to sacrifice while in Mecca was not paid to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the official agency designated by the Saudi Government to control the ADAHI-The Saudi Project for Utilization of Hajj Meat. Why that money was never refunded to the pilgrims is still not explained to Gambians. Slaughtering sheep is one of the fundamental requirements of the Hajj.
In previous years, many pilgrims were tricked into buying tickets for sheep from the Hajj guides who were all working for the former Amir AL Hajj, Imam Fatty, who pocketed all the sale proceeds.
Many people see the annual pilgrimage as an opportunity to make illicit money. This should be addressed by this new government of Adama Barrow. The proposal to start allowing other reputable travel agent to compete with GIA in future Hajj operations is welcomed. Hopefully this could ease the innumerable difficulties that Gambian pilgrims face every year from unscrupulous persons ready to profit from the poor pilgrims.
Written By A Concerned Gambian

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