Sudanese Pilgrims Yearn for Safe Homeland

Saudi security efforts aimed to organize pilgrims and ensure their safety (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
Saudi security efforts aimed to organize pilgrims and ensure their safety (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
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Sudanese Pilgrims Yearn for Safe Homeland

Saudi security efforts aimed to organize pilgrims and ensure their safety (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)
Saudi security efforts aimed to organize pilgrims and ensure their safety (Photo: Adnan Mahdali)

With hearts heavy from the turmoil back home, where ongoing conflict has led to worsening security and economic conditions, Sudanese pilgrims departed from Saudi Arabia after completing Hajj rituals.

Taking different routes to the holy sites in the Kingdom, the journey of Sudanese pilgrims began at N'Djamena International Airport in Chad and Port Osman Digna in Sudan.

Crossing through barren deserts and remote wilderness, they traveled with silent tears in their eyes and faces weighed down by sorrow. Their hopes choked with longing for a homeland of peace and security.

From El Geneina in West Darfur, Sudan, Mohammed Issa Adam began a tough and exhausting pilgrimage journey with a group from the Sudanese Hajj mission.

Their trip spanned several days and involved various modes of transport: donkey carts, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and buses.

They traveled to Chad’s capital, flew to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, and finally landed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Adam, 46, described to Asharq Al-Awsat how Sudanese pilgrims departed for the Kingdom through Chad due to security concerns.

“Leaving from El Geneina in western Sudan, instead of the usual route eastward to Port Sudan, was unexpected,” he said.

“Despite road closures and security challenges, the determination of Ahmed Serr El-Khatim, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Hajj and Umrah, ensured pilgrims could complete their rites,” he added.

“We packed and traveled west by truck to the border, about 30 kilometers away.”

“After completing entry procedures and paying fees, we traveled in groups with donkey carts to Adre, then switched to four-wheel-drive vehicles for another leg. Buses awaited us on our journey to N'Djamena, Chad’s capital, where we arrived after a challenging trip,” Adam continued.

“From there, we flew out via its airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah,” he noted.

Adam, speaking with a heavy heart and halting words, expressed concern over Sudan’s security situation and said: “Security instability undermines civil life, crucial for all Sudanese. As pilgrims, we see Sudan’s safety as our collective responsibility.”

Reflecting on the pilgrimage, Adam said: “From stepping onto Saudi soil to completing Hajj rites, we were warmly welcomed and graciously hosted, easing our journey’s fatigue and hardships.”

“Arriving at Jeddah Airport, procedures were swift, welcoming us with warmth and efficiency.”

“Hajj was performed smoothly without major issues; everything was accessible, with excellent services. At Arafat, we prayed for Sudan’s well-being, hoping for peace to restore it to its former glory.”

Adam also praised this year’s Hajj regulations: “The campaign for ensuring that pilgrims have permits was well-implemented.”

“We noticed strict enforcement from the moment we arrived at the airport. We received identification bracelets, accommodation cards, and ritual cards, all closely monitored.”

“The campaign greatly eased pilgrims’ movements during rituals, ensuring their comfort with excellent services and efficient organization.”

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Al-Sadiq Al-Hilou, coordinator for the pilgrims’ campaigns in the states of East and West Darfur, reported that the number of Sudanese pilgrims who performed Hajj this year reached 8,533.



Mohamed bin Zayed, Burhan Discuss Means to End Sudan War

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meet in Abu Dhabi on March 11, 2022. (AFP)
United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meet in Abu Dhabi on March 11, 2022. (AFP)
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Mohamed bin Zayed, Burhan Discuss Means to End Sudan War

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meet in Abu Dhabi on March 11, 2022. (AFP)
United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meet in Abu Dhabi on March 11, 2022. (AFP)

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan held telephone talks on Thursday to discuss a proposal by Ethiopia to end the war in Sudan, said diplomatic sources.

This was the first telephone call between the two leaders since the Sudanese army openly criticized the UAE for its alleged support of the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a claim repeatedly denied by Abu Dhabi.

During the call, Sheikh Mohamed "affirmed the UAE's keenness to support all solutions and initiatives aimed at halting escalation and ending the crisis in Sudan in a way that contributes to enhancing its stability and security and fulfilling the aspirations of its people", reported the UAE’s state news agency (WAM).

He stressed the importance of peaceful dialogue and prioritizing reason to preserve security and stability in Sudan.

Sudanese diplomatic sources said the leaders discussed a proposal by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to end the war that erupted in April 2023.

The PM had visited Sudan earlier this month to mediate ending the conflict, which broke out over disputes over the transition to civilian rule.

Speculation was rife in Sudan over the telephone call between Sheikh Mohamed and Burhan.

Aide to Burhan, Yasser al-Atta, accused the leaderships of the UAE and Chad of supporting the RSF militarily during the war.

He added however that the telephone call was a positive step that may boost the chances of ending the war.

In June, Sudan filed an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council accusing the UAE of supplying the RSF with weapons. The UAE denied the claim.

A leading member of the Forces of Freedom and Change said the telephone talks between Sheikh Mohamed and Burhan did not come as a surprise.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added that Ahmed’s visit to Port Sudan earlier this month "took place in complete coordination with regional and international powers to persuade the leaders of the Sudanese army to choose peaceful solution" to end the conflict.

"We are fully aware that there is a movement within the army that is influenced by the Islamist movement that is impeding any effort to end the war so that it could return to power once again," he went on to say.

Moreover, he remarked that all efforts to end the fighting in Sudan, whether on the African or Arab levels, are taking place in complete coordination with the efforts carried out by the European Union and United States.