A total of 407 Ghanaian pilgrims who were flown to Jeddah, in the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj have arrived back home safely.
Forming the last batch of pilgrims to arrive, they touched down at the Terminal two of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) at 1:30 pm yesterday by Lion Airways, after which they were received by the Hajj Board and transported to the Hajj Village where they went through the arrival formalities.
The pilgrims, mostly clad in white outfits on arrival at the Hajj Village, were received with a lot of excitement from their families who gave thanks to Allah for a successful trip.
Speaking to journalists at KIA, a member of the advanced team of the Hajj Board, Dr Yunusah Osman, said the trip by the pilgrims was successful as there were not many challenges encountered in terms of accommodation and feeding.
He, therefore, thanked the government and the Hajj Board led by its Chairman, Sheikh I. C. Quaye, for a successful trip, adding that the Board would meet to discuss were it fell short in terms of preparation in order to address the issues going forward.
The Director of Finance of the Hajj Board, Farouk Hamza, asserted that he was impressed with how preparation went despite its late start, adding that all but two of the 3,609 pilgrims who made the trip had returned safe and sound.
Touching on the issue of refund of monies paid by pilgrims who could not make the trip, Dr Hamza said, “the refund will actually start from today. We made it clear when we were still in Saudi Arabia that, yes, we left behind a 100 pilgrims and we have put in place measures to refund their monies.”
Meanwhile, the Medical Director of the Hajj Board, Dr Zakaria Siedu, confirmed that two deaths, involving a male and a female, were recorded which he described as unfortunate.
According to him, the first person died when she collapsed while observing her prayers, while the second person died a week after being rushed to a hospital in Saudi Arabia having fell sick. Additionally, he said one pregnant woman, who delivered in Saudi Arabia, was currently doing well.
Moreover, Dr Seidu said they did not have any issue with the observance of the COVID-19 protocol as the pilgrims were adequately taken through a sensitisation programme on the need to adhere to the safety protocols.
BY BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY & LINDA COFFIE