703 Sierra Leonean pilgrims land safely in Saudi Arabia

ByAlhaji Jalloh, Information Attaché, Saudi Arabia
The first two batches of 234 and 235 Sierra Leone pilgrims respectively arrived safely at the Prince Mohamed Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, Medina in the early hours of Saturday, 22nd October, 2011. Another batch of 234 also arrived safely the following day. This latest batch brings the total number of pilgrims who have now arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the 2011 Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj) to 703.
Many say this year’s arrival is “historical” as it herald the handing over of two vehicles by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, H.E Wusu Munu to the Sierra Leone Hajj Mission.

Elated pilgrims at the arrival lounge

A 26-seater Toyota Coaster Bus and a Toyota Hiace Ambulance bought by the Sierra Leone Hajj Mission during the 2010 Hajj was formally handed over to the administrative head of the Mission, Alhaji Sallieu Mansaray, who received them on behalf of the Chairman of the Hajj Mission. The purpose of the two vehicles, according to the Ambassador, is to service the pilgrims, particularly to ease the suffering of the sick, aged and disabled. (More details on the handing over ceremony to be published soon).
On arrival, the pilgrims were led by members of the National Hajj Coordinating Committee, Alhaji M.S Kargbo and Alhaji Sallieu Mansaray who were warmly received by the diplomatic and local staff of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh headed by Ambassador Wusu B. Munu and other Sierra Leonean nationals resident in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

pilgrims at the arrival lounge in Saudi Arabia

Unlike previous years, this year, the pilgrims successfully went through both medical and immigration checks without any hitch. The Deputy Chairman of the National Hajj Coordinating Committee, Alhaji M.S Kargbo, has said that the pilgrims are now happily housed at hotels close to the second holiest mosque in Islam, “Al – Masjid Annabawy” (Prophet’s Muhammad’s Mosque). Meanwhile, the medical team that accompanied the pilgrims has confirmed that the pilgrims are all in good shape. Dr. Momodu Sesay attached to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Mariama Mansaray of the National Malaria Control Programme said that, they have so far not identified any major medical problem with the pilgrims, except a few cases of minor pains and exhaustion. The Hajj will officially commence early next month when all the pilgrims from all over the world will converge at Mecca. Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam that every able-bodied Muslim performs at least once in his or her life time if the means and resources are available

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