long wait

Nigerian officials blame ‘Logistical delays’ for failure to evacuate students from Sudan

By Ben Ezeamalu

Posted on April 27, 2023 12:14

Critics of the Nigerian government are accusing officials of undue delay in evacuating nationals, especially students, out of Sudan. But the government says it has started evacuations to neighbouring Egypt as of today. 

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?”