Nigerian Government evacuates more citizens from Sudan

Rahila Lassa, Abuja

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The Nigerian Government appeals for calm as additional buses conveying citizens out of Sudan depart to Egypt.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo appealed at a press briefing to keep Nigerians abreast of the Government’s efforts in evacuating its citizens.

The Permanent Secretary said no Nigerian irrespective of Status will be left back noting that the situation room is tracking Nigerians in all locations in Sudan to ensure their safety.

According to him, all payments for logistics have been made, however, alternate routes are also being explored for speedy evacuation of citizens.

“So far, we have been able to move 637 out of Khartoum, directly by the federal government to the port of Aswan. Our team and the Nigerian embassy in Egypt have made arrangements to receive this 637 Out of which they were able to Clwar  420. But the Egyptian authorities have not so far cleared them to move into Egypt. The reason is the border arrangements in those locations are different from the usual border arrangements we’re used to in West Africa. You need a visa you need to pay a fee to exit a country and you need to pay a fee to enter a new country. What the Sudanese border is asking Nigerians to pay is equivalent to $8 for exit and the Egyptian government is asking an equivalent of  $25. It’s not the money that matters is the permission. 

“It is sad to note that so far, it’s been three days all the Nigerians at that border have not been cleared yet, for reasons best known to the Egyptian Government. All high-level consultations are ongoing and I have every reason to believe that it will be positive, they have their concerns and we have our concerns. Our concern is to bring our people to safety and their concern, which we do not know yet is to protect their country.

“We are aware that some people are still facing difficulties in locations. It is not because of inability to plan and it is not because of inability to get them through, but because that is the situation in Sudan.

Dr Sani- Gwarzo said Government was optimistic that it will reach a convergence point where permission will be granted for the entry of the citizens into Egypt and afterwards airlifted to Nigeria.

“So we are working with whatever authorities are concerned to make sure that these people are evacuated. We are tracking every Nigerian that is in those locations. We are aware of the pains and the difficulties that people are facing.

“However, we are appealing to the public, especially those directly involved, the students and Nigerians that are in Khartoum trying to be evacuated and the parents or relatives of those Nigerians that are trying to be evacuated to remain calm and exercise patience, some negative discussions, some negative publicity can be very harmful. 

 “And there is a limit to what we can say we are doing because some of it borders on security, some of it borders on even heavier implications. And that is why we are very mindful of what to say and how to say it, but we know wherever they are. We know the categories of people that are in various locations. And believe me, it’s not just the border of Egypt, and Nigeria that we have people. We have people that have arrived in towns across, we track them, we speak with them, we speak with the local leadership.

Dr Sani-Gwarzo however added that dealing with a war situation is usually dicey hence government will not wait for contributions before doing the needful, but doors are however open to that.

31 buses conveying Nigerian citizens have been rolled out of Sudan and the ceasefire has been extended by 72bhijea from the initial agreement.