Association of British Hujjaj (pilgrims) UK working for the welfare and wellbeing of vulnerable British Hajj & Umrah Pilgrims
Every year about 25,000 British Muslims perform Hajj and over 100,000 perform Umrah (lesser Hajj) throughout the year. There is accumulated evidence that British Hujjaj experience significant difficulties and problems due to ignorance and lack of awareness of pre-travel health & safety precautions as well as an understanding of the needs of good preparation for the journey.
On 2nd July 1990, 1,426 pilgrims were killed in a stampede, including over 12 British Hajj pilgrims, in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Makkah. More than 3,000 pilgrims were crushed to death in 2015.This was the worst Hajj tragedy of modern times.On May 23rd 1994, 270 pilgrims were killed at Al-Jamarah. On 15th April 1997 fires driven by high winds tore through a sprawling, overcrowded tent city at Mina, trapping and killing more than 340 pilgrims and injuring 1,500 and on 9th April 1998 around 180 pilgrims were trampled to death when panic erupted after several fell off an overpass at Al-Jamarah. The tragic deaths of twenty British Hajj returnees due to a meningitis outbreak caused a great amount of grief and distress to the community in UK.
In 1998, feeling the pain of these tragic events, the Association of British Hujjaj (A.B.H) was formed to address these issues and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of British pilgrims. The executive committee of the Association of British Hujjaj consists of senior doctors and professionals from across all areas of society.
The Government of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organization require all countries to conduct necessary educational programs to enhance Hajj related health & safety awareness amongst their pilgrims before they arrive in the Kingdom in order to enable them to perform safer Hajj in best possible manner.
Since the formation of the organisation ABH has been working hard throughout the year to protect over 125,000 British Hajj and Umrah pilgrims by raising awareness of pre-travel Hajj & Umrah related health & safety issues. Awareness is raised through high profile multi-lingual publicity campaigns via press and electronic media, conferences, seminars and educational training programs as well as production and distribution of relevant informative literature.
- ABH played an important role in setting up a vital link between the relevant government departments and British Muslim community and has been working closely with the departments to coordinate their efforts for the welfare of British Hajj/Umrah pilgrims and international travellers.
- ABH has been successful in containing the spread of meningitis which caused the deaths of over 20 Hajj returnees in the UK in the recent past. These efforts made substantial savings in NHS resources by preventing the need for hospitalization of these returnees.
- ABH provides counselling and advisory services on health & safety matters to the community throughout the year.
- Our official website is in place and provides appropriate helpful information, guidance and advice to the public and is continually updated.
- ABH explores effective and practical ways to minimise hardships and problems witnessed by the affected pilgrims.
- ABH persuades the concerned authorities to co-ordinate their efforts for the welfare of the British pilgrims at every stage of their journey.
- It was a difficult task to reach the disadvantaged British Muslim population of around 3 million. We took this challenge, used every means and methods available to get our message across the community throughout the UK. We have been running an exceptionally high profile national awareness campaign through press, TV, radio, seminars and distribution of informative literature.
- ABH’s significant achievement from these efforts was the launch of relevant campaigns at the House of Lords, London with the help of Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, accompanied by other members of the House of Lords and House of Parliament, diplomats from Muslim-majority countries as well as community dignitaries.
- As part of these health and safety campaigns, ABH held similar events in various UK towns and major cities.
- These ABH campaigns are being hugely supported by press and media in the UK and around the world.
Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK has also been carrying out an extensive campaign to address the extremely serious issue of the worsening situation of exploitation of British Hajj & Umrah travellers who have been experiencing extreme hardship and mental anguish at the hands of unscrupulous tour operators and travel agents who are exploiting pilgrims both financially and mentally.
Unscrupulous and rogue Hajj/Umrah tour operators exploited Hajj travellers by charging extortionate prices for Hajj visas that are meant to be free of cost. Some travel agents sold travel tickets to Saudi Arabia at premium prices and in some instances nearly doubled the cost. It is an insult to injury that a large number of tour operators do not provide the quality services i.e. accommodation, transport and other amenities during the Hajj period as initially promised. This is an issue that affects over 3 million British Muslims.
Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage is an ongoing process and a large number of British Muslims will continue to travel Saudi Arabia every year for the pilgrimage. British Hajj/Umrah travellers specifically have always been at a high risk of contracting infectious diseases and being in other accidents due to crowded conditions at ceremonies, accommodation sites and on public transport.
The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK, through its specific knowledge, expertise and experience of nearly two decades of working with the community at the grassroots level to help and protect vulnerable pilgrims and to prevent loss of innocent human life. It is heartening to note that our tireless voluntary humanitarian services and efforts are being appreciated and confirmed as extremely beneficial to the society by the various organisations. ABH has been providing the above detailed services on voluntary basis and will continue to do so; we intend to vigorously pursue our efforts to achieve even more in the future.