DR Congo hajj pilgrims banned by Saudi over Ebola concerns

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The Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, has attracted an international repercussion with Saudi Arabia banning Congolese seeking to enter the country.

Saudi Foreign Affairs ministry announced it had suspended the issuance of visas to Congolese aiming to undertake the annual pilgrimage, the hajj.

“The granting of arrivals visas for people entering from DR Congo has been stopped, to conserve the well being of pilgrims,” the ministry statement read in part.

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There are people who have been preparing for years, sometimes 10 to put together the $4,250 to make this religious trip to Mecca.

Ebola was in mid-July declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, WHO. The outbreak is restricted to the east of the country where efforts are underway to contain and control it.

Speaking to the BBC, Imam Djuma Twaha, a Congolese Muslim leader disclosed that about 410 prospective pilgrims were initially billed to undertake the pilgrimage.

“There are people who have been preparing for years, sometimes 10 to put together the $4,250 to make this religious trip to Mecca,” he said. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam.

All its rites are based in the holy city of Makkah and surrounding towns. Most rites are around the Ka’bah – the House of God. The place is usually crowded with people from around the world undertaking routines.

africanews.com

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