Sisi directs formation of task force to repatriate deceased Egyptian pilgrims

Ahram Online , Thursday 20 Jun 2024

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the formation of a task force to follow up on repatriating deceased Egyptian pilgrims' deaths and provide necessary support to their families.

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The task force will be headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to “follow up on and manage the situation regarding the deaths of Egyptian pilgrims during the Hajj 2024 season,” according to a presidential statement released on Thursday.

The president's directives come after reports surfaced during the week suggesting that some Egyptian pilgrims died while performing Hajj and tens of others were missing.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s Tourism Hajj Mission reported that it located 142 lost Egyptian pilgrims who had gone missing while performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia and returned them to their residences.

A day earlier, the Hajj mission confirmed that at least eight Egyptian tourist pilgrims passed away during their Hajj pilgrimage at the holy sites of Mina and Arafat.

The overall death toll from the hajj 2024 season exceeded 1,000, the latest AFP tally said on Thursday, more than half of them unregistered pilgrims.

Around 56,000 officially registered Egyptian pilgrims performed Hajj with nearly two million pilgrims this year amid extreme hot weather.

President El-Sisi also directed the task force to immediately coordinate with Saudi authorities to facilitate the repatriation of the deceased pilgrims' bodies and to provide all necessary assistance in this matter, according to the statement.

"The presidency extends its deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, affirming the government's commitment to offering the necessary support during this sorrowful event," read the statement.

On-site search teams

Earlier Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had dispatched field consular teams to Mecca and the holy sites to search for the missing Egyptian pilgrims.

These consular teams are conducting field visits to hospitals to gather data on Egyptian pilgrims admitted for treatment or passed away and then crosschecking this information against the reports for missing pilgrims filed by their families.

A consular task force has been assigned to be present around the clock at East Arafat Hospital and Al-Muaissem Medical Center in Mecca, the ministry added.

The foreign ministry also noted that coordination is underway with Saudi authorities and the official Egyptian Hajj mission in this regard.

The ministry noted that the emergency rooms designated for rapid response are operating around the clock and that citizens can contact them through the following numbers: Egyptian Consulate Emergency Room in Jeddah: phone calls on (00966565702002).

Individuals with relatives missing in Mecca, Medina, and the holy pilgrimage sites, or those seeking repatriation of deceased relatives, are advised to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They can head directly to the ministry’s headquarters at 7 Lazoghly Street, first floor in Cairo’s Garden City district, Isis building.

They can reach the operations room through the following phone numbers: (27923050 – 27923060 – 27942782 – 01006638814).

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