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Egypt Cracks Down on Tourism Companies After Haj Deaths

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Ayize claire

Jun 23, 2024

Thousands of pilgrims arrived in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia

Egyptian authorities have revoked the operating licenses of 16 tourism companies, accusing them of responsibility for the deaths of Egyptian pilgrims during this year's haj pilgrimage to Mecca. The decision was announced by a crisis unit established on Thursday and led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The unit confirmed that 31 of the deaths were due to chronic illnesses.

Medical and security sources reported that at least 530 Egyptians died during the pilgrimage. The tourism companies are under fire for failing to provide essential services, including medical care, to the pilgrims. These agencies allegedly sent pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on personal visit visas rather than haj visas, which are necessary for access to Mecca and its pilgrimage rituals.

Pilgrims with personal visas did not receive medical services provided by Saudi authorities, forcing them to trek through the desert to reach Mecca, risking arrest or deportation. The lack of appropriate accommodation and the extreme heat exacerbated their suffering, leading to exhaustion and deaths.

The Egyptian government highlighted that the majority of the deceased pilgrims were unregistered, with only 31 deaths among officially registered pilgrims attributed to chronic diseases. This crackdown on negligent tourism companies aims to prevent future tragedies and ensure the safety of Egyptian pilgrims.

Recent reports indicate that hundreds of pilgrims from various countries have succumbed to the harsh conditions in Mecca, where temperatures have soared above 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit). This crisis underscores the need for stricter regulations and better services for haj pilgrims.

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