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19.01.2006 General News

Ghanaian Pilgrims Protest

By Graphic
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Dozens of Ghanaian pilgrims yesterday embarked on a peaceful demonstration to register their protest over the undue delay in their return journey to Ghana.

The pilgrims, who are passengers of Egypt Air, marched to the Saudi offices of the National Hajj Council (NHC) and accused members of extending their departure date from January to February.

The demonstrators, who represented other pilgrims who are also passengers of Egypt Air, demanded the release of their passports to enable them to arrange their own flights back home.

When contacted, the council denied the allegations made by the pilgrims and said it had not extended the departure date of any pilgrim.

A member of the council, Dr Suleiman Mumuni, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the pilgrims were supposed to depart on January 14, 15 and 16 as indicated on their tickets.

He explained that pilgrims using Emirates Air were scheduled to depart between January 17 and 29.

That information, he said, had been communicated to the agents of the pilgrims, and expressed surprise at the attitude of the demonstrating pilgrims.

Dr Mumuni said the council had begun negotiations with the authorities of Egypt Air to review the departure date.

He promised that the council would work round the clock to ensure the early and safe return of the pilgrims. The first batch of 90 Ghanaian pilgrims left Saudi Arabia for home on Tuesday.