A prospective pilgrim woman prays as she waits to cross Rafah border crossing before moving forward to the Muslims’ Holiest city of Mecca of Saudi Arabia for making a pilgrimage, in Rafah, Gaza on 14 August, 2017
Saudi Arabia issued new directives banning up to 300,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from performing pilgrimage, Alarab.qa reported yesterday.
Reporting the Palestinian Institution for Human Rights (Shahed), the Qatari news website said that Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who do not hold a Palestinian Authority (PA) passport.
Shahed reported travel agents were informed by the Saudi embassy in Lebanon not to accept applications from Palestinians who do not have PA passports.
The rights group said it was worried about the “sudden” Saudi decision, calling on Kingdom to identify its reasons which have “dangerous consequences” on the Palestinian refugees and their future.
According to Alarab.qa, Shahed could not reach officials at the Saudi embassy in Lebanon to get information about the issue, but said the PA embassy in Beirut did not receive official directions in this regard.
Shahed said the move adds further burdens on Palestinian refugees as it restricts their freedom of movement and limits their chance of obtaining jobs in the Kingdom, in addition to preventing them from performing the Hajj.
It is worth mentioning that thousands of Palestinians, who hold Jordanian passports, were banned from applying for Hajj visas this year.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been prevented from performing Umrah since the Egyptian military coup in 2013 saw the Rafah crossing on an almost permanent basis.
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(Source / 19.09.2018)