Home News More than 1,000 pilgrims have died. Here’s what you need to know.

More than 1,000 pilgrims have died. Here’s what you need to know.


At least 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It is unclear whether the death toll is higher than in previous years, as pilgrims die every year from heat stress, illness and chronic diseases. But the death toll raises questions about whether Saudi Arabia is adequately prepared for the heat. The influx of unregistered pilgrims Authorities say the men rely on illegal travel agencies to evade official licensing procedures.

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Hajj.

The Hajj is a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and is one of the five pillars of Islam. All Muslims who are physically and financially able must perform the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

People spend years saving money to make the five-day pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. The pilgrimage takes place a few days before and during Eid al-Adha. Pilgrims visit several holy sites, including circumambulating the Kaaba and praying near Mount Arafat.

The pilgrimage is a physical challenge even for the young and able-bodied, and many pilgrims are elderly or sick. Some believe the pilgrimage could be their final rites and that dying in Mecca would bring great blessings.

More than 1.8 million Muslims took part in the Hajj this year, including 1.6 million from countries outside Saudi Arabia. According to data from the Saudi General Statistics Authority.

They encountered scorching temperatures of 108 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, according to preliminary data.

Measures taken by the Saudi government to reduce the impact of the heat include spraying water on pilgrims and providing shade in some places. warning Pilgrims are urged to stay hydrated. Minimize outdoor activitiesAnd bring a parasol to block direct sunlight.

As temperatures rose, some pilgrims reported seeing people fainting and dead bodies passing in the streets.

Some pilgrims died from chronic illness or natural causes, according to the authorities, though heat was cited as a factor in many cases.

Many relatives of the dead and missing have complained that authorities have not set up enough cooling stations or provided drinking water for all pilgrims. Such facilities are provided for those who have registered for the Hajj, but do not necessarily address the large number of pilgrims who travel to Mecca without permission.

Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Fahd al-Jarajal said 83% of the 1,301 deaths reported involved pilgrims who did not have permits.

“The rising temperatures during the Hajj season this year are a challenge,” he told state television on Sunday. “Unfortunately – and this is painful for all of us – those who don’t have Hajj permits have to travel long distances under the scorching sun.”

Depending on the pilgrim’s country of origin, an official Hajj package can cost more than $10,000 — far beyond the financial means of many who wish to take part.

The companies have been accused of allowing pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia on visit and tourist visas rather than Hajj visas, which allow them to access medical care and visit holy sites. Pilgrims with permits tour the holy city of Mecca in air-conditioned buses and rest in air-conditioned tents, while unregistered pilgrims are often exposed to the elements.

An Egyptian travel agency operator said Due to the rising cost of Hajj tours and the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, many pilgrims are choosing to apply for tourist visas, which has put a burden on facilities in Mecca and surrounding holy sites.

The man from Mecca, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said unregistered pilgrims had no tents and had to endure the sweltering heat, adding that many pilgrims had to walk more than 12 miles because there were too few buses.

Before the Hajj, Saudi authorities put up billboards and sent mass text messages reminding people that performing the Hajj without permission is illegal; violators face fines, deportation and a ban on re-entry.

In the weeks before the Hajj, visitors without permits were prohibited from entering Mecca. However, many pilgrims were able to Evading restrictionsarriving early and hiding, or paying smugglers to bring them into the city.

Several countries that have seen large death tolls have taken swift action to respond to the tragedy.

Tunisia’s president sacked his minister of religious affairs on Friday after more than 50 pilgrims were killed in the country, while Jordanian prosecutors have opened an investigation into illegal Hajj routes after at least 99 pilgrims were killed in the country.

Egyptian authorities said they would revoke the licenses of 16 companies that issued visas to pilgrims without providing adequate services.

Mahmoud Qassem, a member of the Egyptian parliament, said travel agencies were “keeping pilgrims in limbo and switching off their mobile phones” so they could not hear tourists’ calls for help.

Saudi officials have repeatedly praised this year’s Hajj as a success. It is unclear whether this year’s Hajj has had more deaths than in previous years because Saudi Arabia does not regularly report the figures. In August 1985, more than 1,700 people died around the holy sites, mostly from heat stress, the largest death toll in the world. study It was discovered at that time.

But some social media users blamed the government Poor management The deaths this year have sparked an outcry, while an opposition party founded by an exiled Saudi dissident has condemned what it calls “negligence.”

This is not the first time the Saudi government’s handling of the Hajj has come under scrutiny. The pilgrimage has been marred by several disasters over the years, including a deadly stampede in 2015. More than 2,200 people.

In recent years, as temperatures have risen, many pilgrims have Death from heat stressIslamic Relief, a London-based global aid agency, has been warning about the impact of climate change on the Hajj since 2019.

“If global emissions continue on their current course, temperatures in Mecca will rise to levels that are unbearable for the human body,” Shaheen Ashraf, the group’s global advocacy director, said in an emailed statement Friday.

As the dates for the Hajj are tied to the lunar calendar, the coming years will see a gradual progression into cooler months.

The number of unregistered pilgrims may have contributed to the lack of clarity on the death toll. Official figures have been slow to be released, and some countries say they are sending consular staff to search hospitals, clinics and morgues for missing citizens.

Indonesia has reported the most deaths so far, at 199, while India has reported 98. They said it was not certain whether heat was to blame for all the deaths.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt, which is a major base for pilgrims, has released a complete death toll of their citizens. The Egyptian government said 31 officially permitted pilgrims had died but it was still working with Saudi officials to tally the full toll.

Many people have been reported missing, and Egyptian families are bracing for a high death toll. Egypt has set up a crisis centre to receive calls for help and coordinate the government’s response.

At least two Americans were among the dead: Maryland residents Isatu Wurie, 65, and Alieu Wurie, 71. Their daughter, Saida Wurie, said she had a hard time finding their bodies in Mecca. Still, she said she believed her parents were filled with joy in their final days.

“They died doing exactly what they wanted to do,” she said. “They always wanted to go on the Hajj.”

Emmad Mekay Contributed reporting.

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