The National Hajj Board of Ghana says it is waiting on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to determine whether pilgrimage to the Kingdom for 2021 will come off or not.
At a press conference held on Saturday, May 22, 2021, at the Hajj Village in Accra, Board Chairman, Sheikh I. C. Quaye said the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is yet to determine and communicate a decision as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19.
Owing to the requirement of COVID-19 vaccination certificate from persons applying for a visa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Hajj Board says it has resolved in consultation with the Ghana Hajj Agents Association to ensure that persons who paid for Hajj in 2020 but could not attend will be refunded at their request if they miss out on an opportunity to make it this year.
“Given the new visa requirements from Saudi Arabia, which prescribes the COVID-19 vaccine, as a pre-requisite for obtaining a visa to travel to Mecca, both parties have agreed the following:
“The overwhelming majority of Ghanaian pilgrims who have paid (since 2020), to perform Hajj, have not had their first coronavirus vaccine jab.
“Given that all visitors to Saudi Arabia, need to have received BOTH inoculations of the Corona-virus — 19 vaccine, and given that there must be an 8-week gap between inoculations, the time constraints clearly make it difficult for Ghanaian pilgrims to comply with the directives from Saudi Arabia.
“Both parties have collectively resolved that in case there is no Hajj (due to the delay in the Saudi Governments timeous announcement of the performance of Hajj 2021); it is our considered view, that Ghanaian pilgrims will be disadvantaged from participating in this year’s Hajj, “The Hajj Board will ensure, in the event that there is no Hajj this year, to refund all monies paid by pilgrims in full — for those who request for a refund of their monies.”
Reading the joint communiqué issued by the Hajj Board and the Hajj Agents Association, Sheikh I. C. Quaye stated that the National Hajj Board will monitor communications from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Affairs, Saudi Arabia, and provide updates accordingly.
The 2021 Hajj according to the Islamic calendar is to commence on Saturday, 17 July and end on Thursday, 22 July.
However, with barely two months to the period, the Hajj and Umrah Affairs of Saudi Arabia is yet to determine whether it will receive pilgrims during the period.
This comes after prospective Ghanaian pilgrims who paid to embark on the trip to Mecca in 2020 had their hopes dashed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheikh I. C. Quaye noted further that, the board has since not taken payments from agents for the year 2021 adding that persons who paid for Hajj last year will be the ones given the opportunity to embark on the trip should it become a possibility.
He added, the Board has come into consensus with the Agents will facilitate the refund of paid monies should the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decide there will be no Hajj this year.
Credit: Ghana Web