The Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Shlomit Sufa pledged her country’s support in assisting Ghanaian Christian pilgrims who travel to Israel.
According to the Ambassador, Israel was very much aware of the importance of pilgrimage especially to Christians, hence the need to take the needed precautions to safeguard the lives of the pilgrims.
Mrs Sufa announced this yesterday when she paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Ebenezer KojoKum, in Accra yesterday.
The visit was to introduce herself to the ministry, follow up on engagements held by her predecessor and the Ministry as well as to discuss issues of mutual interest.
She said unfortunately, her country had put in place strict travelling measures due to the outbreak of coronavirus and was careful about the health of Israelis and its tourists with regards to entry of people into the country from across the world, especially Africa.
She indicated that there was the need to carefully handle the situation for Israel, Ghana and other countries around the world till the borders were re-open.
The Israeli Ambassador to Ghana said it was important to start negotiations and co-operation and not wait until the pandemic was totally eradicated before plans were put in place for the pilgrimage.
“We need not wait until we are totally weaned off this pandemic,we need to start negotiations and cooperation soon and when we finally reach a place when the borders are opened, we can have the green light,” she stated.
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, MrKum, said the ministry had begun setting up committees which included the screening and visa application committees for the pilgrimage next year.
He said Christian pilgrims in Ghana had not embarked on their annual journey to Israel for the past two years due to COVID-19 adding that “as a ministry we hope and pray that a solution will be found to the Omicron variant as quickly as possible so that the relationship that existed between the ministry and the embassy would be strengthened.”
Mr Kum mentioned that the ministry had started the promotion of local Christian pilgrimages and had started mapping out some sites towards it.
He said beyond the trip to Israel, there were some good sites in Ghana that when well-developed would be good places for domestic Christian pilgrimages.
He was of the view that Ghana could learn from Israel about how to best promote such sites as well as manage them.
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs said both countries have diverse cultures that should bring the people of both countries together and was hopeful that both countries would have an exchange programme when the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was minimised.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU AND ANITA ANKRAH