Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, has given some update on the Nigerians being rescued from Sudan.
Dabiri-Erewa, on Thursday, confirmed the arrival of the first set of stranded Nigerians in Sudan at the Aswan border in Egypt.
Dabiri-Erewa, who confirmed the development in a post on Twitter, said the border was already closed when the students got there, adding that they would proceed to the airport in the morning.
“The first set has arrived at the Aswan border in Egypt but the border is already closed. They will leave early in the morning and then proceed to the airport,” the tweet read partly.
This was as the Federal Government on Thursday said that the Nigerian Air Force, Air Peace and other airlines had received clearance to fly to Egypt to pick up stranded Nigerians.
This was contained in a joint press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development on the evacuation of Nigerians caught up in the ongoing crisis in Sudan.
The statement said, “Nigerian Mission in Egypt is liaising with the Egyptian authorities to facilitate the evacuation exercise, by providing emergency entry documents and holding shelters, until the stranded Nigerian are airlifted back to Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Air Force, Air Peace and other Airlines have received clearance to fly to Egypt. The NAF C-130H is scheduled to leave Abuja tomorrow, 28th April, 2023 to commence the airlifting of the evacuees.”
But The PUNCH learnt that the evacuation process for Nigerians trapped in Sudan amid insurrection in the country has not been without hiccups.
Despite the end of the ceasefire by the warring Sudanese forces, the stranded Nigerians, especially students, said the embassy had not provided any buses for evacuation on Thursday.
The PUNCH gathered that embassy officials were not on the ground to explain to stranded Nigerians why no buses were available to evacuate them.
It was also learnt that an official of the embassy, who entered the International University of Africa, was almost beaten to death by angry students.
The PUNCH reports that the evacuation of 2,400 students and other Nigerians trapped by the ongoing conflict in Sudan took off on a slow start on Wednesday as only 15 out of the 40 buses required for the exercise were provided.
Although the Federal Government hired 40 buses for the repatriation of the citizens from Khartoum and other cities to Egypt, only 10 buses were available as of Wednesday morning, while additional five buses were provided later in the day (Wednesday).
Dabiri-Erewa, while speaking earlier on Thursday morning on Channels TV, said the journey of the evacuated Nigerians was progressing, adding that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs was doing everything possible to see that Nigerians in Sudan got evacuated.
Dabiri-Erewa said “The journey is almost 28 hours if it is a straight journey but in this case, the evacuated Nigerians stopped somewhere and all that. So, we are hoping that they will get to Aswan later this (Thursday) evening. We are monitoring. Thirteen buses left Khartoum from two universities yesterday (Wednesday). Missions and officials are at Aswan to receive them.
“Another set of buses hopefully would be released. Funds have been released for them because the drivers want to collect cash before they release the next set of buses. So, everything is being done by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to ensure that it is done. Cheering news is that no lives have been lost and our students are progressing to their destination in Aswan.”
She added that the missions were working together to ensure that Nigerian students were protected.
Dabiri-Erewa also noted that pressure was mounting as the 72-hour ceasefire was elapsing.
However, speaking with our correspondent on Thursday, some of the trapped students expressed the fear that as the three-day ceasefire declared by the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Force expired on Thursday, buses were not available to convey them.
Accusing the Nigerian embassy of corrupt practices, a student of the International University of Africa, Abdullah Zakari, said, “The Federal Government has done their part. It is this embassy that are messing up things here. They are very corrupt. Since morning, no buses made available. We are very hungry; no food, no water.”