On Tuesday, the first batch of stranded Indians left Port Sudan for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, aboard INS Sumedha. The Indian foreign ministry said 278 people were onboard.
The Netherlands carried out a fourth evacuation operation on Monday night, moving a total of around 100 Dutch nationals and 70 others, from 14 different nationalities, out of Sudan.
The US government says it evacuated its diplomats and their families on 23 April.
Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the West African country began evacuation plans at the same time as those who had already evacuated their nationals.
“The advantage that these people have is that the US, Italy, [or] France, don’t have 5,000 citizens in Sudan,” Onyeama told Channels Television on 23 April.
“There is also a risk that they took. The US helicopters… they have a naval base close by, they have those kinds of resources and evidently, they were ready to take certain risks to move those helicopters and other things in there and pull their people out.
“If we did the same, we would be being very selective. Because 100 people out of 5,500, who do you take?”
Heading to Egypt
As of 25 April, Nigerian officials say buses have been hired to move nationals to Sudan’s border with Egypt. From there, they will bring them to the southern Egyptian cities of Aswan and Luxor where they would be airlifted to Nigeria.
A student told Nigeria’s Arise Television on Tuesday that they are “really pained” over the government’s slow pace of evacuation.
“Other countries are evacuating their nationals, they are eager, they are showing that care, they are valuing their lives. But for us, our own country is full of excuses, that there is no money, and it’s going to cost a lot. Is it that the money is more valued than the 4,000 lives of Nigerian citizens living in Sudan?”
💥April 26, 2023
Nigerian students at the registration point in #Sudan waiting to the convey to Egypt Before Airlifting to Nigeria.🍁 pic.twitter.com/FIgpqc6YCe
On Tuesday, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, head of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, shared on Twitter a receipt showing the payment of N150m ($330,000) for the hiring of buses for the evacuation of the students.
Onyeama later told journalists on Wednesday that the actual amount spent on hiring 40 buses for the evacuation is $1.2m.
“Of course you know, because of the risks involved and so many other things, a lot of people are going to also take advantage, you’re going to hike up the price. We saw that the French convoy was attacked and so forth. It was difficult procuring these buses. But we had to do it because you know, Nigerians’ lives matter to us.”
Sources, however, told The Africa Report that the Nigerian government would have to sort out the issue of security escorts for the buses before the evacuation.
“There must be [an] arrangement for security to accompany the buses to the border of Egypt. Then from Egypt, the military of Egypt will now take over from there and accompany them to Aswan,” says a source who preferred not to be named because he was not authorised to speak about it. “The buses are going to be moving in convoys and Aswan is like 45 hours or so from Khartoum, by road.”
Dabiri-Erewa did not respond to phone calls and messages requesting comments. But she posted a photo of the buses, taken at nightfall, and added that the Nigerian government had sorted out “a bit of some logistics delay.”
It’s late in the night . Will get a clearer view in the morning . But in that dark shot are buses that will convey Nigerian students to nearby borders in Egypt . More buses are arriving. A bit of some logistics delay but all now sorted by @nemanigeria and the Nig mission,Sudan pic.twitter.com/AYUGCPfF6u— Abike Dabiri-Erewa (@abikedabiri) April 25, 2023
On Monday, Nigerian carrier, Air Peace Airlines, offered to airlift Nigerian citizens in Sudan free of charge if they are taken to a safe, neighbouring country.
“If they are moved to Kenya or Uganda or any other country, we will move in to get them out,” Allen Onyema, the airline’s CEO said in a statement. “Some parents have started calling on us to help. We are ready to do this again and again.”
Manzo says the government had already assembled Nigerians in a holding area in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, awaiting their conveyance to Aswan.
“It is from Aswan that Air Peace will go and lift because many people are saying that Air Peace is ready to carry Nigerians but that the authorities are not allowing it. Do we own Sudan? We don’t own Sudan?
“Air Peace cannot land in Sudan as we speak. They will have to go to a safe location and that is Aswan.”
On Wednesday, Onyema told Arise Television that the first batch of the stranded Nigerians would be flown out of Egypt on Friday.
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