Nigerian Pilgrims to Hajj Stranded at Kano Airport

Published December 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Around 4,000 Muslims hoping to make the holy pilgrimage to Mecca this year were stranded Tuesday at Kano airport in a dispute over flights. 

Four airlines were contracted by the Nigerian government this year to fly the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia but, as in several previous years, disputes over payments for the flights erupted, leaving thousands on the tarmac. 

Some of the would-be pilgrims said they had been waiting for two weeks for their promised flights. 

Fist fights were reported to have broken out between airline officials and frustrated passengers. 

Salamatu Ibrahim from the town of Bauchi told AFP she had been at the airport for eight days, living in the open in a camp set up on the airfield. 

"Look at how we are living. We are in Ramadan now which means we are fasting and we are living out in the open. It is terrible," she said. 

Travel around west Africa is often problematic but particularly so for would-be pilgrims who are supposed to take government-sponsored flights to the Islamic holy city in Saudi Arabia. 

Thousands of Nigerian Muslims were stranded in Saudi Arabia last year after the airline supposed to pick them up refused to do so -- KANO (AFP)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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