First group of Lankan pilgims arrives

WARM WELCOME: Mohammed Azmi Thassim, Faizer Mackeen and senior diplomats from Riyadh and Jeddah receive the first group of Sri Lankan pilgrims in Jeddah on Sunday. (AN photo)
Updated 20 August 2016
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First group of Lankan pilgims arrives

RIYADH: The first group of 62 of the 2,240 Sri Lankan Haj pilgrims arrived on a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane in Jeddah on Sunday.
The island’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, and other carriers will bring more pilgrim in the coming days.
Sri Lankan Ambassador Mohammed Azmi Thassim, Consul General Faizer Mackeen and senior diplomats welcomed the pilgrims.
“This year, we had a limited quota because of the ongoing development works in Makkah,” Thassim, who met Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Salih Bentin on Sunday, told Arab News from Jeddah.
Ferrying of the Colombo pilgrims to and from Jeddah will be shared by the SriLankan Airlines, the Saudi Arabian Airlines and other airlines.
Consul General Mackeen said: “Today, we received the Ummul Qura Group, led by Sheikh Hussein Deen.”
He said the consulate has deployed a team at the Haj terminal of the Jeddah airport to welcome Sri Lankan pilgrims. The officials offer refreshments to the pilgrims on arrival and attend to their needs until they leave for the holy cities.
Four teams have been formed in Makkah, Jeddah, Minah and Madinah to assist the pilgrims. In addition to the mission’s staff, the diplomat said that he had solicited the cooperation of volunteers, who would help the pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and at the Haj terminal. “A medical team will also arrive with the pilgrims to look after their health needs.”
Speaking from Colombo, Mohamed Hashim Abdul Haleem, Muslim religious affairs and posts minister, said the Sri Lankan pilgrims will be provided with the best of services both in Makkah and Madinah during their pilgrimage. “With the help of the Saudi government, we have also introduced a new software to our system to streamline all our Haj activities,” he said
He said the pilgrims’ movements will be monitored and the travel agents held responsible if anything untoward happens to the pilgrims.
The minister said that this year, the first timers were given preference in the pilgrims’ selection process. “I have also stipulated the minimum cost for each pilgrim, which should include the airfare, accommodation and internal travel,” he said, adding that any travel operator who tries to exploit the pilgrims will be severely dealt with.


Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

Children attending an open-air Arabic school in February at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they were learning to read the Qur’an. (Reuters)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable: Saudi envoy

  • Al-Mouallimi: International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity
  • In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, said Saudi Arabia's top diplomat at the UN

JEDDAH: Perpetrators of violence against civilians should be held accountable and punished for their crimes, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told the Security Council on Tuesday.

International law and Islamic principles are being violated with impunity, he added. “We witnessed a new massacre committed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, which killed dozens of Palestinian martyrs and wounded thousands,” he said. 

“And for seven consecutive years, the world has witnessed bloodletting in Syria, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians using various means,” including “genocide,” he added. 

“In Myanmar, the world is watching as hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya are driven out of their homes that are burnt, their women raped and children displaced.”

In Yemen, abuses against civilians by Iran-backed Houthi militias include the recruitment of children, the planting of mines in civilian neighborhoods and the use of human shields, Al-Mouallimi said. 

He cited the example of four-year-old Jamila, who had been used as a human shield. She was saved by Saudi-led coalition forces and handed over to her family.

Saudi Arabia supports the formation of a committee of inquiry into Israel’s crimes in Gaza, and a mechanism to collect documents and evidence to hold perpetrators of war crimes in Syria accountable, Al-Mouallimi said.

He stressed the need to facilitate the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in a safe, dignified and voluntary way, and to hold accountable those who caused them harm.