The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said it will commence the evacuation of stranded Nigerians from Sudan on Tuesday.
The agency said the evacuation will be done via road from Khartoum to Cairo in Egypt.
It also added that plans have been made to evacuate about 2,650 to 2,800 people first including students, embassy staff and their families.
This was announced on Monday by the Director, Special Duties of NEMA, Dr. Onimode Bandele during an interview monitored on Channels.
Speaking on whether those in the embassies have been evacuated while leaving out students, he said: “The truth is, nobody has been evacuated yet. I just spoke to the Ambassador in Khartoum, Olaniyan some few minutes ago and the truth is, it is true that there are plans to get buses to start movement tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and as I speak with you, the Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Ahmed is already in Cairo because that is the window that we are looking at. We have a town called Luxor and another one. So, the movement is to perfected between the Embassy in Khartoum and the DG NEMA who is already in Cairo.”
“So, as confirmed by the Nigerian Ambassador in Khartoum, tomorrow, it is guaranteed that movement by road will start”.
On the numbers to be evacuated, he said: “Our projection was both students and others, they are about 5000 but my discussion with the Ambassador this morning, the plan is for about 2,650 to 2,800 to move immediately including families of embassy staff and as plans continue, the figures will be updated and the exact time of departure from Khartoum to Cairo will also be communicated.
“The population is worked by the number of buses and the number of buses will determine how many can move at a particular time. Like I said, if you are evacuating in a situation of internal crisis like we have in Sudan, you have to be mindful of the number of buses in your convoy so that you can easily manage it; security-wise.”
On the authenticity of the evacuation, he said: “I am sure the ambassador, Olaniyan will not push out the information that students should prepare for evacuation if there is no guarantee from the home country. I know that there is a process that has begun for us to bring back Nigerians from Sudan.”
On why it took Nigeria about two weeks before talks on evacuation started, he said: “From the conversation we had with the ambassador in Khartoum when the issue started, it was not safe for anybody to start any movement and there was a total lockdown in that country.
“It is just some few days ago that they got the window and the window they got, they still have to tread softly because we don’t know what the situation might be. Let me quickly remind you that countries like France and Qatar tried to do some movement on Saturday but because of the security situation, they had to retrieve to Khartoum. So as much as we feel the pains of our citizens, we feel we should do it right so that we don’t have casualty on our side. So, that is where we are as at today.”
On the choice of Egypt for evacuation rather than a closer location, he said: “when you are doing evacuation, you have to consider security and it has to be in a dignified manner. So, the choice of Egypt should have come up because of the consideration of the people on ground.”
On those who self-evacuated, Bandele said: “We are aware that some of the students self-evacuated to the border, about ten of them and the ambassador in Ethiopia has sent a note verbale to the government of Ethiopia to allow the citizens pass through their country and as at yesterday night, we spoke and efforts is still ongoing. So, we are aware they are there but we are advising that communication should be directed to the Embassy in Khartoum because they are the sole representative of Nigerian government in that country.”
On whether relief materials will be provided for them while they await evacuation, he said: “What is paramount now is safe evacuation of these Nigerian citizens to Egypt and I said the DG of NEMA is already in Egypt. Other parameters will be looked into and provision will be made to ensure they are evacuated in safe and dignified manner with the provision of all necessary things.”
On what the agency will do when they arrive Nigeria, he said: “The process for home reception is to get a dignified place to receive them, make provision for meals and get them to return home by provision of transport fare. That is the process.”
(Courtesy: The Nation)