Mecca authorities intensify security for hajj pilgrims
Authorities in Mecca have intensified efforts to cope with the influx of pilgrims flooding into the holy city during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Security forces are only allowing Umrah pilgrims wearing “ihram,” the pilgrimage attire, to enter the Grand Mosque, while barricades have been set up at every entrance and gates by security forces.
Many pilgrims are finding it difficult to find space even outside the Grand Mosque to join the congregational night prayers. Special forces under the Saudi diplomatic corps that have been assigned to crowd control management are not allowing pilgrims to sit anywhere in or around the Grand Mosque.
The Health Ministry has drawn up a special plan to deal with emergency cases, especially on the 27th night of Ramadan, on which Muslims believe destiny was determined.
Emergency teams have been put on high alert, while temporary teams in Taif and Jeddah have been deployed to deal with accident cases.
The ministry is equipped to admit incoming emergency cases from accidents occurring on Riyadh, Jeddah and Madinah highways. Airstrips at King Abdullah Medical City and the Al-Noor Hospital are on alert to receive emergency cases brought in by helicopters from accident sites, according to Abdul Wahab Shubaily of the Health Ministry in Mecca .
Security aviation forces, meanwhile, have been conducting air surveillance to identify traffic jams in the city and to provide humanitarian aid, security operations and logistical support to vital government agencies during Ramadan. “Eight helicopters are taking part in surveillance operations,” said Mohammed Al-Harbi, head of security aviation. “The Grand Mosque area and highways connecting Mecca to Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh are constantly monitored from above.”
The Civil Defense has set up six special teams to assist medial-related cases. “We have deployed Civil Defense personnel inside the Grand Mosque to assist pilgrims,” Col. Saleh Al-Olayani of Mecca's Civil Defense told Arab News. “Falling ill suddenly can hamper pilgrim traffic, so we have deployed teams inside the Grand Mosque to shift sick and elderly pilgrims who cannot continue performing the pilgrimage onto ambulances and then to hospitals,” he said.
“A standby force that is being supervised by 25 senior officers will help Civil Defense personnel boost the capability of field teams and units, while the Civil Defense operation room will monitor the movement of Umrah pilgrims via CCTV cameras that cover all of Mecca 's districts around the clock.”