Iraq: Flights Insufficient for Tripling of Hajj Pilgrims
|July 25, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Sulaimaniya, (AKnews) – While the number of pilgrims from the Iraqi Kurdistan region has tripled from the previous year, the number of flights has not risen to meet this demand, leaving many unable to make the trip.
Mariwan Naqshbandi, spokesman for Kurdistan Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs told AKnews that last year only 13,000 people made Hajj but this year so far 45,000 have made the pilgrimage. Some 5,000 more have registered their travel to Mecca in holy month of Ramadan (beginning with August this year).
The Iraqi Hajj Board operates only three flights per week to transfer the pilgrims, which cannot meet the high demand, Naqshbandi said.
He said he knows of 200 people from Kurdistan who have secured their visa but the lack of available flights has meant they have had to cancel their pilgrimage.
Naqshbandi said the considerable rise in the number of pilgrims was “unexpected” by both Iraqi and Kurdish officials.
Last week Kamel Haji, Kurdistan minister of endowment and religious affairs, met with Hameed Pavi, a member of the Iraqi Endowment Committee where it was agreed that that the committee will treat Kurdistan as a region not a province and give it a greater share of funding for flights.
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