Following the Ebola crisis rocking the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Saudi Arabia Government has banned Congolese from entering its country.
Saudi Foreign Affairs ministry announced it had suspended the issuance of visas to Congolese aiming to undertake the annual pilgrimage, the hajj.
“The granting of arrivals visas for people entering from DR Congo has been stopped, to conserve the well being of pilgrims,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Ebola was in mid-July declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). The outbreak is restricted to the east of the country where efforts are underway to contain and control it.
A Congolese Muslim leader, Imam Djuma Twaha disclosed that about 410 prospective pilgrims were initially billed to undertake the pilgrimage.
“There are people who have been preparing for years, sometimes 10 to put together the $4,250 to make this religious trip to Mecca,” he said.
Hajj is the second-largest annual gathering of Muslims in the world, after the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Karbala, Iraq.
The Hajj takes place in and around the holy city of Mecca, which is located in the country of Saudi Arabia and is usually crowded with people from around the world.