Nigerians in Sudan awaiting transportation to the Egyptian border via buses procured by the Nigerian government

7000 fleeing Nigerians, others stranded at Egyptian border, as CSO berates FG over ‘fake’ role in evacuation of citizens from Sudan

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Amid reports of Nigerians stranded on the Sahara Desert, the Nigerian government has claimed that about 7000 of its citizens, and others who made it to the border post are being prevented from crossing into Egypt by the North African country.

Nigerians in Sudan awaiting transportation to the Egyptian border via buses procured by the Nigerian government

This is also as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) claims that it has evacuated nearly 1000 Nigerians via buses to the Egyptian border for airlifting to Nigeria.

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Videos posted by some stranded Nigerian students fleeing the war-stricken Sudan had emerged showing them pleading for help as buses reportedly chartered by the Nigerian government at a cost of $1.2 million to convey them to a border town in Egypt from where they will be airlifted to Nigeria, had dumped them on the Sahara Desert road to Egypt, with their drivers demanding to be fully paid before continuing with the journey.

It was previously claimed that there were only about 4000 Nigerians including students residing in Sudan, but fresh reports now claim that over one million citizens reside and work there, with only one-third of that number being students.

According to the agency, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), there are about 7000 nationals, including Nigerian students fleeing Sudan, as the organisation, Friday, raised the alarm that that number is stranded at the border between Sudan and Egypt being prevented from crossing into safety.

A statement by NIDCOM released by its spokesperson, Gabriel Odu, further quoted the agency’s Chairman/CEO,  Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as appealing to ‘those concerned with passages and movement of persons and services along contiguous borders of Sudan to create a humane condition for about 7000 nationals, including Nigerians to have unfettered access to their various destinations.’

According to Mrs Dabiri-Erewa, over 7000 nationals, including Nigerians are not being allowed to cross the border into Egypt since their arrival late Thursday evening.

“She added that the Nigerian mission in Egypt has been working tirelessly on this as the Egyptian authorities are insisting on visas by fellow Africans to transit back to their countries.

“She appealed to the Egyptian authorities to kindly allow the already traumatised travellers to transit to their final destinations in various countries in Africa,” the NIDCOM statement read.

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has disclosed that the first batch of about 1600 evacuated Nigerians from Sudan are expected to arrive Abuja, Friday.

According to NEMA, a convoy of 13 buses conveying the first batch of the evacuees from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital city, is moving to the holding area in Aswan, Egypt from where they will be airlifted to Nigeria further disclosed that it is ‘in touch with the Nigerian airline, Air Peace, that volunteered the airlift and prepositioned aircraft for immediate departure as soon as the Nigerians arrive Aswan to bring them home.’

“It is pertinent to note that due to the volatile security in Sudan there are lots of challenges to overcome in Sudan. Yet NEMA is on top of the situation with the support of the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan. Situation reports will be constantly compiled and shared with partners to ensure a hitch free operation. Bus companies are engaged in Egypt to transport the evacuees to Aswan accompanied by staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan.

“NEMA is appealing to all Nigerian citizens to be calm and cooperate with officials that are helping to move our brothers and sisters to safety and eventually airlift them back home.”

It is unclear if the estimated 975 Nigerians who disembarked from the 13 buses are among the 7000 nationals of other countries stranded at the Egyptian border.

However, a Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has carpeted the Nigerian government’s role in the evacuation of its citizens stranded in Sudan, describing it as ‘fake.’

Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, in a statement, Friday, lamented that the students are forced to take their destinies into their own hands, adding further that some students ‘had to even pay money to the bus drivers conveying them while the government didn’t bother to give any reason or justification for that.’

According to Mr Rafsanjani, the Nigerian government ‘has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that the rights of the citizens are protected internally and externally.’

While calling on the government to take advantage of the opportunity given by the Sudanese government via a three-day ceasefire to urgently evacuate the students, stressing that ‘if nothing is done to address this situation, Nigerian students might start dying.’

“Other smaller countries have succeeded in evacuating their subjects in Sudan, if a country like Uganda can evacuate their citizens, what is our government waiting for?

“We believe that if their children are involved, they would have taken swift actions to evacuate them, but these are children from poor homes, that is why excuses are being given.

“We are worried that people are hungry and there is no concrete information from either the Embassy or the Committee in charge of the buses.

“People are sitting outside under high temperatures. The temperature is so high that people are thirsty. Nowhere to find water to drink or buy food to eat.

“We are worried that students are contributing the little they have to pay their transportation to neighbouring countries which is very risky and dangerous, because the government has made fake promises to provide transportation to evacuate them.

“This clearly shows that the Nigerian leaders appear not to care about their citizens and their safety.

“We call on the presidency and the national assembly to take necessary step by liaising with African Union and other international bodies to ensure amicable resolution of the Sudan crisis,” the statement read.

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