The Federal Government says all is now set for the evacuation of the first set of Nigerians from war-ravaged Sudan.
Abike Dabiri -Erewa, chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), stated this on Thursday while briefing State House journalists at the 70th session of the media briefings organised by the Presidential Media Team.
Dabiri- Erewa said the first set of evacuees were expected to arrive in Nigeria on Friday, April 28.
Dabiri-Erewa announced that 13 buses had departed from two universities in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, ferrying Nigerian students to the Aswan border in Egypt, where they will be airlifted to Nigeria. She said the Nigerian embassy in Sudan had informed the army and the Rapid Support Forces ahead to ensure safe passage for the evacuees.
She noted that logistical challenges escalated when more Nigerians who had not been earlier documented for the exercise suddenly expressed interest to return home upon sighting some of the 40 busses.
Dabiri-Erewa revealed that although at least 5,500 Nigerian students were schooling in Sudan, the Nigerian population in the war-torn country was about three million.
Speaking after Wednesday’s federal executive council meeting, the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said the evacuation process was part of the government’s effort to repatriate Nigerian citizens stranded there since fighting broke out between the military and the Rapid Support Forces on April 15.
The government, she said, had made all necessary arrangements to airlift Nigerians fleeing Sudan from an airport in Egypt.
The NIDCOM CEO noted that Air Peace would be departing the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Thursday evening for Egypt where the airline was expected to airlift them back to Nigeria, on Friday.
The crisis which broke out on April 15 from a bitter power struggle between the leaders of the Sudanese regular army and a rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has led to the death of several citizens creating a humanitarian crisis.
Minister of state for foreign affairs, Zuberu Dada, had on Wednesday disclosed that the government, in a bid to ensure the safety of its citizens in Sudan, the Nigerian government has successfully secured permission and authorisation from the Sudanese government to evacuate Nigerians from the war-torn country.
The war has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 400 people officially announced died, while nearly 3,500 have been injured in the confrontation which has forced hundreds of citizens to flee the capital Khartoum.
The evacuation is being done in batches to ensure the safety of all Nigerians.
“The good news is that no Nigerian life has been lost so far. I think it’s important to stress that all Nigerians are very safe. And we’re very confident and hopeful that we shall not lose any Nigerian life Insha Allah shall in this exercise. All is well and we’re good to go.”
The NIDCOM chairperson reiterated that the government has arranged for security support and transportation for the Nigerians to the Egyptian border.
He said the government was making every effort to evacuate as many Nigerians as possible during the 72-hour window provided by the Sudanese government.
Speaking on the time frame within which the evacuation will be done, the minister stated that the Sudanese government is cooperating with the Nigerian government over arrangements to evacuate Nigerians in that country
“We have no problem with the 72-hour window. Because we’ve talked to all the authorities concerned and we’re on the same page. But talking about the window, we are making every effort to ensure that we make use of this window to evacuate as many Nigerians as we possibly can.”