Hajj heat deaths: Egyptian pilgrims ‘completely abandoned’

Via Sally Nabil, BBC Arabic

BBC Egyptian woman Effendiya, who died in Mecca in heat-related circumstances while on Hajj, poses for a photo with her son TariqBBC

Tariq (right) says his 77-year-old mother, Effendiya, “can’t stand the baking temperature”

Hundreds of people are believed to have died due to rising temperatures during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Those killed came from more than two dozen countries, with most of the deaths from Egypt. The BBC visited a community where more than 20 people died.

Many Egyptian pilgrims come from poor villages. They spent their life savings on a spiritual journey to Islam’s holiest city.

Effendiya, a 70-year-old mother of five from the northern province of Menoufiya, sold her jewelry to pay for the trip, her youngest son Sayyed told me, but died while on the trip. her ritual.

“My mother’s death broke me,” he said, bursting into tears. He explained that going to Hajj was his mother’s biggest dream.

Effendiya, a widow, arrived in Mecca on a tourist visa and not on an official Hajj visa.

She is among hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims hoping to fulfill their religious obligations this year without applying for a special Hajj permit.

Saudi authorities consider these unofficial visits a violation of their regulations. But the process of obtaining an official Hajj permit can sometimes become expensive or complicated.

‘She can’t stand the grill heat’

To board an official Hajj convoy in Egypt – a country in deep economic crisis – can cost around $6,000 (£4,700) per person.

Her family said Effendiya’s trip was organized by a local broker, who charged her half the amount but promised her five-star service.

They say the reality is completely different.

On Arafat Day, which this year falls on June 15, pilgrims gather from dawn to dusk on Mount Arafat – about 20km [12 miles] from Mecca – to pray and preach.

“The bus dropped them off about 12km from Mount Arafat and left,” said Effendiya’s eldest son, Tariq. She had to walk all the way.”

“Whenever I video call her, she pours water on her head. She can’t stand the baking heat.

“During our last call, she looked exhausted.”

Effendiya's youngest son, Sayyed

Effendiya’s youngest son blames local travel brokers for not providing pilgrims with adequate protection from the heat

Pilgrims often stay in air-conditioned tents, with buses transporting them between holy sites and receiving medical care.

Sayyed said that Effendiya and other unregistered pilgrims “don’t have these facilities, they are completely abandoned”. He added that they tried to protect themselves from the scorching heat by using bedsheets to make tents.

Her family said they were unable to contact the broker who organized her trip.

Hajj is one of the main pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to participate in this festival once in their lifetime – if financially and physically able – and believe that they return from the pilgrimage cleansed of their sins.

This is one of the largest annual religious gatherings in the world. Nearly two million pilgrims have visited Mecca this year.

But no one could have expected their journey to end with their death.

‘I just wish I was with her’

Egyptian authorities said many pilgrim deaths were not registered, making it difficult to determine the official death toll. The State Department said it will take more time and effort to identify those who died and contact their families.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said an investigation would be opened into the activities of all travel agencies involved in bringing unregistered pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.

“Without my mother, I feel scared,” Effendiya’s eldest daughter, Manal, said with sadness in her eyes.

She recalled that she started screaming as soon as she received news of her mother’s death.

Effendiya's daughter, Manal

Manal says she feels scared when her mother is not around anymore

“Shortly before she died, she called my brother and told him that she felt her soul leaving her body,” Manal told me, tears rolling down her cheeks. I just wish I could be with her at that time.”

Effendiya died while lying breathing in the shade on a street corner.

Her grieving children were given some comfort when they learned she was buried in Mecca.

“She had hoped to die and be buried in the holy city,” Manal said.

“Her dream has come true.”


News 7F: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button