Sheikh I.C. Quaye, the Chairman of the Ghana Hajj Board has disclosed that the board is yet to receive official participation of Ghanaian Pilgrims for the 2021 Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
However, according to him, the Ghana Hajj Board has received visa requirements from the government of Saudi Arabia, which prescribed the COVID-19 vaccine as a pre-requisite for obtaining a visa before one can travel to Mecca.
“Ghanaian pilgrims who are able to fulfill and show proof of two jabs of COVID-19 vaccines are qualified to embark on Hajj this year because this is one of the requirements that Saudi Arabia has requested for. Having fulfilled the requirements there is also a need for confirmation by the Saudi Arabia government about the quota,” he said.
He further noted “Saudi Arabia will have to actually tell the whole world, Ghana your quota stands at 1,000 or 2,000 or more, which needed to be added to whatever we do in Ghana. Those two things, having fulfilled the requirements and having received the quota Saudi Arabia then we can carry the pilgrims who paid in 2020 to embark on the journey to Hajj”.
“As it stands now, I cannot ascertain for the fact that, in spite of everything that pilgrims will embark on Hajj this year. Because Saudi Arabia itself is not certain about whether there will be Hajj or not. Until they are satisfied, that from all over the world, we are not going there with Coronavirus and we are not leaving there with Coronavirus”, Sheikh I.C. Quaye explained.
Sheikh I.C. Quaye assured that the board will continue to monitor communications from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah Affairs, Saudi Arabia, and update accordingly.
Setting the records straight on rumours that the board has collected money for 2021 Hajj, he responded that no money has been paid to the board this year.
“We never collected money before 2020 and after 2020. There was a time limit for payment in 2020 which we acted upon. Pilgrims pay through an agent so if you have paid to your agent for Hajj 2021, you deal with your agent for a refund because the board has not collected any money for Hajj 2021”.
Meanwhile, a joint communique signed by the Hajj Board and Ghana Hajj Agents Association on May 22, 2021, at Hajj Village in Accra, stated that the majority of Ghanaian pilgrims who have paid (since 2020), to perform Hajj, have not had their first Covid-19 vaccine jab.
“Given that all visitors to Saudi Arabia, need to have received both inoculations of the coronavirus 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”, the communique stated.
The communique also added that 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 their 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 a refund of their monies.