Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, April 22, 2023, as fighting in the capital between the Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces resumed after an internationally brokered cease-fire failed. (AP Photo, Marwan Ali)

Obi raises concern over plight of Nigerians stranded in Sudan, as foreign countries begin evacuation of citizens

Advertisements
Advertisements

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Dr Peter Obi has raised concerns over the plight of thousands of Nigerians, including students, stranded in the war-stricken Sudan as two armed forces intensify battle for control of the East African nation.

Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, April 22, 2023, as fighting in the capital between the Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces resumed after an internationally brokered cease-fire failed. (AP PhotoMarwan Ali)

Over 300 people have been killed since the fighting erupted last Saturday between forces loyal to Sudan’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Advertisements

Hospitals in the country have struggled as violence rages. Many wounded are stranded by the fighting, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate that monitors casualties, suggesting the death toll is probably higher than what is known.

The crisis, which began in Khartoum, the capital city, has now spread to its environs, mostly the residential areas around the capital, which could increase the number of casualties. 

Reacting to the delay by the Nigerian government in initiating action towards evacuating Nigerian citizens trapped in the country, Dr Obi reminded the Federal Government of its ‘statutory responsibility… to protect Nigerians at home in Nigeria and abroad,’ as he called for ‘more deserving proactiveness and commitment as the life of every Nigerian is sacred and  important.’

Peter Obi

Obi, who expressed sadness over the situation of Nigerians in Sudan, in a statement released via his Twitter handle, Sunday, ‘deeply implored’ the Federal Government ‘to expedite all efforts to rescue about 4000 Nigerians that are mostly students in Sudan to safety.’

“I’m sad and concerned by the reports that Nigerians trapped in Sudan have not been evacuated. While we understand the extreme challenges in Sudan, we deeply implore the Federal Government of Nigeria to expedite all efforts to rescue about 4000 Nigerians that are mostly students in Sudan to safety. Moreover, as the Sudanese crisis in not a natural disaster that happened suddenly, it will be sad to lose any Nigerian to the conflict, especially now that we need all hands to create and sustain a New Nigeria.

Since it is the statutory responsibility of FGN to protect Nigerians at home in Nigeria and abroad, it is important that we attend to such issues with more deserving proactiveness and commitment as the life of every Nigerian is sacred and important.

“A New Nigeria is really imperative and Possible.-PO”

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) disclosed, Sunday, that it has set up a committee ‘comprising professional emergency responders, search and rescue experts to constantly evaluate the situation and seek for the safest way to evacuate the Nigerian citizens even if it is through a country neigbouring Sudan.’

NEMA, in a statement, also disclosed that it ‘is in constant communication with all relevant partners including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and security agencies while seeking for an appropriate window of opportunity to evacuate all stranded Nigerians back home in a safe and dignified manner.’

“The attention of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is drawn to the widespread public concern on the situation in Sudan especially in regards to the ongoing conflict and the safety as well as well-being of stranded Nigerian citizens including hundreds of students in various universities of the country.

“It has become necessary to inform the public that NEMA is in constant communication with all relevant partners including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and security agencies while seeking for an appropriate window of opportunity to evacuate all stranded Nigerians back home in a safe and dignified manner.

“The current emergency situation in Sudan is very complex with fighting between warring factions going on and all airports and land boarders closed. NEMA is working assiduously with all its partners and is constantly compiling updated information on the situation.

“A committee has been set up comprising of professional emergency responders, search and rescue experts to constantly evaluate the situation and seek for the safest way to evacuate the Nigerian citizens even if it is through a country neigbouring Sudan,” NEMA statement read.

The agency has also confirmed receiving a letter of solicitation written by the National Association of Nigerian Students in Sudan for possible evacuation of its members, especially those in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

However, while the Nigerian government continues to stall in evacuating its citizens from Sudan, other countries have since initiated the process of retrieving their nationals, with United States reportedly deploying its Special Forces Unit to the East African nation for the evacuation of key staff of its embassy in Khartoum.

Similarly, the United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, Greece, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Egypt are among a list of countries which have commenced evacuation of their citizens from Sudan, amid growing uncertainties over any possible ceasefire between warring factions in the country.

American Special Forces have swiftly evacuated 70 U.S. Embassy staffers from Khartoum to Ethiopia early Sunday. Although American officials said it was too dangerous for a government-coordinated evacuation of private citizens, other countries scrambled to remove citizens and diplomats.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted that U.K. armed forces evacuated British diplomatic staff and their families “amid a significant escalation in violence and threats.” Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said over 1,200 military personnel were involved.

France, Greece, Jordan and other nations also organized flights. The Netherlands sent two Hercules C-130 planes and an Airbus A330 to Jordan for 152 Dutch citizens who made their way out of Sudan, but “not without risks,” said Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren. Italy, seeking to extract 140 of its nationals, sent military jets to Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, said Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

Overland travel through contested areas has proven dangerous. Khartoum is about 840 kilometers (520 miles) from Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia said it evacuated 157 people, including 91 Saudi nationals and citizens of other countries. Saudi state TV showed a large convoy of cars and buses traveling from Khartoum to Port Sudan, where a navy ship took them to the Saudi port of Jeddah.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were given security guarantees by both sides for the evacuation, according to Defense and Foreign Ministry officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly. The officials said a military flight carrying about 100 people left Khartoum for Djibouti, with another planned.

The Italian medical group Emergency said 46 of its staff refused to leave, working in hospitals in Khartoum, Nyala and Port Sudan.

Also, Egypt, which said it had over 10,000 citizens in Sudan, urged those in cities other than Khartoum to head to consular offices in Port Sudan and Wadi Halfa in the north for evacuation, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

Thousands of Sudanese have fled Khartoum and other hot spots, according to United Nations agencies, but millions are sheltering in their homes from explosions, gunfire and looting without adequate electricity, food or water.

In the western region of Darfur, up to 20,000 people left for neighboring Chad. War is not new to Darfur, where ethnically motivated violence has killed as many as 300,000 people since 2003. But Sudan is not used to such heavy fighting in its capital, which “has become a ghost city,” said Atiya Abdalla Atiya, secretary of the Doctors’ Syndicate.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *