Cirebon, West Java (ANTARA) - Director general of Hajj and Umrah at the Religious Affairs Ministry Hilman Latief has informed that elderly Hajj pilgrims will be prioritized during the pilgrimage this year.

Indonesia has been allotted a pilgrim quota of 221 thousand from the Saudi authorities, without any age limitation, for the 2023 Hajj pilgrimage season, he noted.

"There are some 60 thousand prospective Hajj pilgrims categorized as the elderly, whose age is above 65 years old," he said while inaugurating Muhammadiyah Cirebon's An-Nur Sangkana Mosque here on Saturday.

Since it is intending to prioritize the elderly, the ministry will optimize efforts to provide the best services to elderly pilgrims so that they can complete their Hajj pilgrimage, he added.

"The physical assistance, facilities, and guidance, would be provided to elderly pilgrims, and we hope they will achieve a perfect Hajj," the director general said.

In addition, the ministry will seek more facilities for prospective Hajj pilgrims from West Java, including a Hajj departure point at Kertajati International Airport in Majalengka district.

He said that the airport, which has been developed with a huge budget, is the pride of West Javans, hence, efforts must be made to utilize it properly.

"The West Java people expect the airport, which has been developed with trillions of rupiahs, would (be used) for Hajj pilgrims' departures. (We are also advocating) for the availability of Hajj dormitories," Latief added.

On Tuesday (January 10, 2023), Latief said that the ministry is planning to prepare special officers to assist elderly pilgrims during the 2023 Hajj season.

The unusually high number of prospective Hajj pilgrims who are elderly is due to the spillover from the previous Hajj season, when age restrictions were enforced to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission among the elderly, he highlighted.

"Currently, there are more pilgrims aged over 65 years than usual. This is because some of them had their departure delayed, so they gathered this year," he informed.

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Translator: Khaerul Izan, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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