The Jakarta Post
Forty-two Indonesian umrah (minor haj) pilgrims are reportedly stranded in Saudi Arabia after the Islamic kingdom imposed travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Indonesia's Religious Affairs Ministry said that the 42 pilgrims – 39 of whom possessed umrah visas and three of whom had visit visas – had planned their trips to Saudi Arabia through 11 umrah travel agencies.
"I have already asked [the travel agencies] to immediately report the pilgrims to Saudi authorities so that their return can be arranged," the ministry's umrah and special hajj director, Arfi Hatim, said in a statement on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia announced the suspension of umrah on Feb. 27 and has since restricted movement to contain COVID-19. It suspended all international flights to and from the country for two weeks on March 15.
The Islamic kingdom has also locked down its capital city of Riyadh and two Islamic holy cities, Mecca and Medina, while also imposing travel restrictions on 13 regions to stem the transmission of the disease, which has infected 767 people and killed at least one in the country, Bloomberg reported.
Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry has urged pilgrims with umrah visas within this year's umrah period to register with the government at e.services.haj.gov.sa until March 28 in order to arrange their departure, which will be facilitated by the Saudi government.
Endang Jumali, the hajj consul of the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah, said that the stranded Indonesian pilgrims were currently staying at the hotels provided by the travel agencies and that they were all in good health.
"The information regarding their departure flights and times will be delivered to their registered phone numbers," he said in statement on Thursday. (trn)