COVID-19: Cameroon Not Sending Pilgrims To Mecca This Year

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities to limit the number of pilgrims allowed for the Hajj this year, the government of Cameroon has decided not to authorize any pilgrims to the Islamic Holy Land this year.

“Due to the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has decided to limit the participation of pilgrims in the 2020 Hajj to only residents of Saudi Arabia”, Cameroon’s Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga announced in a communiqué on Wednesday. 

“As a result, the faithful Cameroonian muslims cannot embark on the pilgrimage to Islam’s Holy Land this year as in the past”, the ministerial statement concluded.

The muslim pilgrimage is an annual event that is undertaken each year by thousands of Cameroonian muslims. 

In July 2019, 2,389 Cameroonian muslims made the journey to the Islamic Holy Land, as against 2,339 in 2018.

This decision, though regrettable, is very much welcome in certain quarters because it would save some pilgrims from contacting the coronavirus. 

Also, it would save many muslims from the pangs of both institutional and community criminals who have annually been feeding fat from the sweat of innocent Cameroonians as they (criminals) ply their trade, some citizens noted.

“Each year, hundreds of Cameroonians are defrauded by both government operatives and unscrupulous and criminal tour operators who sell bogus pilgrimage packages to innocent Cameroonians from whom they fleece millions of FCFA”, declared sociologist Elvis Elonge.

“Many individuals in the Ministry of Territorial Administration would be in dire traits because of the cancellation of the Hajj as some of those who organise the annual journey borrow fat sums in advance in the hope of reaping proceeds from racketeering from the Hajj transport/tourism packages”, revealed a source in the Ministry of Territorial Administration who elected for anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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