UMAA Issues 2014 Hajj Advisory
Washington, DC: Each year, more than 14,000 American Muslims attend Hajj to fulfill a myriad of religious obligations. Unfortunately, last year the experience of some was marred by a sectarian attack, as reported in the Washington Times , says an UMMA message. It adds:
In response, in an effort lead by Muslim Advocates, UMAA recently met with the State Department and its Consular Affairs office to discuss proactive steps individuals can take to protect themselves during the Hajj season. One of the points emphasized by the State Department was that the Consulate and Embassy are unable to provide emergency transportation, housing, or security accommodations and instead rely upon the Saudi Arabian government.
To prepare for any unforeseen problems or emergencies, UMAA provides some recommendations to Hajj travelers:
Register Online with the STEP program - The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow US citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. This is will help the US Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest. It will also help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Travel safely - Do not reveal personal information, such as your beliefs or sectarian affiliation to strangers or even security personnel. Also, keep private any information about your citizenship. Remain private in your interactions with others, and avoid public confrontations or arguments. If any particular situation looks threatening or dangerous, gather your group members and leave the area immediately.
If you need help - Contact the Saudi department tasked with law enforcement charged with the protection of Hajj travelers, “The National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of Europe, Americas, and Australia”, Telephone numbers from within Saudi Arabia: 012-542-7003 x101 or Mobile: 0505-608-150. Website: http://www.teaa.com.sa/
Other emergency phone numbers include:
Health Affairs: 012-530-8812
Lost Pilgrims: 012-530-8813
Traffic Accidents 993
In the event of any emergency - UMAA advises you contact the US Consulate in Jeddah, which is tasked to deal with Hajj affairs. The Embassy in Riyadh is not the appropriate office to speak with for incidents related to the Hajj. You may contact the US Consulate General in Jeddah by phone at 012-667-0080.
Duty Officers will be available for emergency assistance during the Hajj ceremonies. When contacting the Consulate, if the Duty Officer is unable to provide assistance, ask to be connected with a Consular Official or the American Citizens Services Unit.
For assistance contacting media officials or for other assistance in speaking with US Government agencies, you may also contact UMAA at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please contact the other offices first, as UMAA is not able to provide emergency assistance to Hajj travelers.