Thursday 15 November 2012
Last Update 15 November 2012 3:53 am
JEDDAH: The number of Egyptian pilgrims who have overstayed their Umrah visas has grown to about 700 over the past few days. This figure includes children. This number has not been officially confirmed though.
In an attempt to get repatriated, the pilgrims have been sitting in front of the Egyptian Consulate in Jeddah and have now occupied private residential buildings in the vicinity.
Most of them are now experiencing difficulty as water and food supplies are low and they have resorted to sleeping on the street.
In September, 300 Egyptian visa overstayers were granted repatriation. Saudi immigration has since been less lenient.
These men and women had arrived earlier in the year on Umrah visas and had since stayed on illegally to wait for the Haj season.
Most of these pilgrims do not have their original passports, which are believed to be in the possession of travel operators. Repatriation by the Egyptian consulate would possibly let them bypass any penalties.
Egyptian Consul General Adel Al-Elfy and other high-ranking officials are monitoring the situation and insist that the pilgrims should respect the law and follow the immigration procedure of the Kingdom.
Around 80,000 Haj visas were issued to Egyptian pilgrims this year.
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