Hajj stampede: ‘No indication’ British pilgrims killed as diplomats claim death toll could reach 1,100
ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT SUPPLIED TO THE INDEPENDENT ON 29/9/15 @ 1405PM GMT VIA EMAIL IN RESPONSE TO AN EARLIER EMAIL FROM THEIR REPORTER LIZZIE DEARDEN.
From: The Council of British Hajjis UK
Sent: 29 September 2015 14:05
Cc: The Council of British Hajjis
Subject: Re: Media inquiry – Hajj stampede casualties
Please see comments below. You may quote our Chief executive on this:
Rashid Mogradia said:
The Foreign Office has told me they have ‘no indication of British nationals’ involvement’ in the tragedy’ and they haven’t confirmed any British deaths. Does this correspond with what people are telling you or are any UK pilgrims still missing?
A: Correct and none officially reported as missing.
Q: In light of criticism over safety during Hajj, are there any steps the CBH would like to see taken?
A: To ensure pilgrims are trained as part of an international training programme on the rites of pilgrimage encompassing health and safety and what to do in mass gatherings and avoid issues. Every country needs to take responsible for its pilgrims to ensure training is concluded as part of the pilgrimage visa application prior to departure.
It would not be effective if we trained British pilgrims and other nations did not.
Q: Is the organisation satisfied with the way the aftermath of the stampede was handled by Saudi Arabian and British authorities?
A: The British pilgrims and tour operators reported that there was no physical presence from British officials during Hajj compared to the French and other countries.
In the past the foreign office would have a team based in the holy city of Makkah, this year only a mobile number was advertised online and no base in Makkah. The CBH is prepared to fund a team to work in conjunction with the British Foreign Office (who have a very limited remit of consular support only) to have a physical presence of a team made up of medics, crowd management specialists and volunteers to oversee the smooth passage of British pilgrims during Hajj. This fits in nicely with the Prime Ministers model of a Big Society.
Having a British presence would help communications amongst the pilgrims, tour operators, the FCO and to families and friends back home, who were extremely worried as the tragic incidents unfolded, not to mention the humanitarian work that can be delivered by the British team with other nationalities which would complement the Saudi Authorities own efforts in serving the guests of God.
Online news reporter