Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- With the annual Hajj season officially over, five families continue to frantically search for their children who were separated from their loved ones during this year’s pilgrimage.
The families are currently being assisted by the official Center for Lost Children, which, according to its director, has managed to resolve ten out of fifteen cases so far.
Dr. Nasser al Khulaify told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The Ministry of Hajj has been briefed on all cases, including that of three children of African descent who have been located but are yet to be reunited with their families”.
Dr. al Khulaify believes that it is most likely that the children are still somewhere in the holy city of Mecca and have probably been taken in by a sympathetic family. “What some families do, out of good intention, is, in reality, incorrect,” stressed Dr. al Khulaify to Asharq Al-Awsat. He explained that these families should bring these children to the Center so that they could be reunited with their worried families.
Mohamed Shamel Yusuf al Zubir, an Indian national and the father of a missing child who was found yesterday, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “I lost my two-year-old child at the Jamarat [Bridge]. From that point, I looked everywhere leaving no stone unturned at the holy sites. I could not sleep for days searching for my child in hospitals, centers, public places and everywhere that came to mind. I received a phone call yesterday after an expatriate published a notice in a local newspaper with my child’s picture saying that my son was safe with him. We agreed on a meeting place close to the public transport terminal where I found my son alone with some food. I tried to contact the man who called me however his phone was always switched off.”
Dr. al Khulaify has called on governmental departments, represented in the Ministry of Hajj, to establish a permanent headquarters for the Center for Lost Children near the Holy Mosque, due to the considerable role it plays. He also expressed gratitude to all those who have helped the center, particularly governmental departments and members of Saudi Arabia’s Boy Scouts.