FG halts pilgrimage as Lagos airlifts 310 from Jerusalem over Israel-Hamas war

Following the raging war between Israeli armed forces and the Hamas terrorist organization, the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, NCPC, yesterday announced the suspension of all pilgrimages to Israel and Jordan.

This is coming as the Lagos State government also yesterday announced the airlift of 310 pilgrims from Jerusalem back to the state.

The casualty figure from the conflict has continued to rise, with over 1,600 dead, thousands wounded and hospitalized and many others still unaccounted for.

Announcing the suspension of the pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan, NCPC in a statement signed by the Head of Operations, Abu Okpanachi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Yakubu Pam, said the commission deeply regretted the inconveniences caused as a result of the postponement.

The commission had initially disclosed plans to airlift consular and self-sponsored intending pilgrims in the later hours of yesterday to Amman in Jordan, where they were to spend four days before airlift to Israel.

Okpanachi, however, assured the pilgrims that the commission would re-start the exercise as soon as the situation in Israel improved.

The statement reads; “I am directed to inform you that our planned pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan has been postponed due to the prevailing crisis situation in Southern Israel.

“The Executive Secretary deeply regrets every inconvenience this will cause you and prays that the Good Lord will give peace in our hearts, knowing that all things work together for good for us who love God.

“Kindly be assured that as soon as the situation improves, the Commission will commence the pilgrimage exercise. May the Good Lord honour you greatly for your understanding.”

310 Lagos pilgrims return

Similarly, the Lagos State Government announced yesterday that it airlifted 310 Christian pilgrims from Jerusalem back home amid the raging conflict.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu disclosed this via his verified social media handles.

The governor, while responding to calls from the pilgrims, wrote on his X handle (formerly Twitter): “Good morning Lagos, I’m happy to announce that we have successfully airlifted and returned all 310 citizens who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Israel.

“I want to thank you all for your concern and I must also express my joy to our Ministry of Home Affairs for a job well done.”

Congratulating the pilgrims, NCPC, Executive Secretary, Mr Pam expressed excitement over their safe arrival while commending their good conduct throughout the exercise. “I am very excited to know that our fifth batch of pilgrims returned safely to the country, sound and complete,” he said.

Global shock waves

The spiralling conflict has been felt globally, with oil prices surging on fears of tightening supplies.

US energy firm, Chevron said it suspended operations at a natural gas platform off Israel’s coast at the request of authorities.

Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call that the Gulf kingdom is working to prevent the conflict from spreading across the region, state media said early Tuesday.

The European Commission said it was reviewing its development aid to the Palestinians, but clarified that no support had yet been suspended. Britain said it is undertaking a similar review.

Conflict taking toll on children — UNICEF

The United Nations’ agency for children, UNICEF, said yesterday that the conflict in Israel and Palestine was taking a “horrendous toll” on the lives of children.

According to reports, hundreds of children have been killed since Saturday.

“The ongoing surge of conflict-related violence continues to take a horrendous toll on the lives of children and their families in Israel and the State of Palestine.

“We call on all parties not to target children and take all necessary measures to ensure their protection during hostilities,’’ UNICEF spokesman, James Elder, said in a statement.

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