Millions gather in Arafat for Hajj climax

Millions of Hajj pilgrims from across the globe gathered on the plains of Arafat, on the outskirts of Makkah, on Thursday for the high point of this year’s pilgrimage. (AN photo by Saad Al-Enezi)
Updated 01 September 2017
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Millions gather in Arafat for Hajj climax

ARAFAT: Millions of Hajj pilgrims from across the globe gathered on the plains of Arafat, on the outskirts of Makkah, on Thursday for the high point of this year’s pilgrimage.
Dressed in white, pilgrims began arriving from Mina on Wednesday night and continued throughout Thursday.
With umbrellas aloft and undeterred by the blistering Makkah heat, exceeding 40 Celsius for most of the afternoon, many pilgrims walked to and climbed the famous Jabal Rahma, a small mountain at the heart of the holy site.
In a ritual known in Arabic as the Wuqoof-e-Arafat, 2 million pilgrims are expected to remain in Arafat until dusk, where they ask for forgiveness from God.
Volunteers offered free refreshments to pilgrims as they passed, and security officials were out in force to facilitate the safety of the pilgrims by using drones and helicopters to spot any potential dangers.
The first train out of Arafat on Thursday evening is expected to be at 18:38.
Muzdalifah will be the next step for pilgrims, where they will spend the night and collect pebbles that they will use for the ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual for the next three days.


Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago
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Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

  • The IOM and European Union are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home

NIAMEY: Algeria has deported nearly 400 African migrants trying to reach Europe, sending them back over the Sahara desert into neighboring Niger, the UN migration agency (IOM) and Niger said on Sunday.
The IOM and European Union are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home, after thousands have died making the dangerous crossing to Europe across the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Many get stuck before ever reaching Africa’s northern coast, either in Libya, where they suffer slavery and abuse at the hands of militias, or Algeria.
IOM operations officer Livia Manente told Reuters in an email that the group of 391 migrants from 16 west and central African countries had arrived in the Nigerien town of Assamaka on Friday on about 20-30 vehicles, after being stopped while heading to work in various Algerian cities.
“They claim their phones were confiscated and that conditions were poor — not much food and water, crowded rooms),” she said. “They were transported in trucks after the locality of In Guezzam and then obliged to walk across the border ... including families with pregnant women and children.”
Aboubacar Ajouel, the mayor of Agadez, the last destination for the migrants, confirmed that they had arrived.
Algeria declined to confirm this particular deportation, but said that 20,000 migrants had been prevented from reaching Europe by Algerian authorities since January, thanks to security measures put in place at its borders with Mali and Niger.
“We have no choice but to prevent them,” Hassen Kacimi, director of Algeria’s interior ministry in charge of migration, told Reuters by telephone.