By Ismail Abdulaziz
Mr Nura Rimi, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Egypt, says Nigeria is being accorded top priority by the Egyptian government in the granting of evacuation approval for its citizens fleeing Sudan.
Rimi told the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Thursday that the feat was achieved because of the cordial relations between both countries.
NAN reports that the sudden slide into violence between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, had left thousands of foreigners, including diplomats and aid workers, stranded in that country.
He said that many countries chose to evacuate their citizens through the southern part of Egypt because of their confidence in the government and people of that country.
Rimi added that foreign countries refused to use some of Egypt’s neighbours because of the instability in those countries.
He explained that in offering assistance to the countries seeking evacuation approval, Egypt must first think of the security implication.
‘’It was not an easy decision as I said because security considerations were taken, but Nigerians were within the shortest possible time granted approval to be evacuated through Egypt.
‘’That’s why I kept saying those conditions and guidelines that were given were in good faith because Egypt has to preserve its own national security.
” If you look at the countries around Egypt, almost all of them are in one form of crisis or the other.
‘’So, it is always necessary for countries to safeguard their territorial integrity and to make sure that they guarantee their own security because if a country is not secured then nobody will want to leave in it.
” Even the citizens will run away and leave the country,’’ he told NAN.
Rimi lauded the sincere efforts of the Egyptian government for the priority given in approving the use of its border to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Sudan.
‘’I must thank President Abdulfattah el-Sisi for graciously accepting to opening the Egyptian borders to Nigeria.
” These borders were open first and foremost to Nigerians before any other nationality.
‘’I met my colleague ambassadors from other countries waiting and waiting for approvals to be able to bring in their citizens to be evacuated.
” Nigeria was, I believe, the first country to be given this approval and then other countries followed suit.
‘’I must also thank my friend, the ambassador of Egypt to Nigeria, Amb. Ihab, who not only facilitated the granting of this approval but also happened to be in Egypt at that time and worked hand in hand with me to make sure that this exercise succeeds,’’ he said.
Rimi further said that the Nigerian embassy in Cairo liaised with its counterpart in Khartoum, Sudan, to arrange for the safe evacuation of citizens residing there.
‘’Colleagues in Khartoum were overwhelmed; so we helped by sending our staff of Sudanese origin from Cairo to go to Khartoum to assist them in evacuation,” he said.
The envoy lauded the Nigerian community in Cairo for coming to the assistance of fellow citizens in dire need.
‘’Nigerians in Cairo assisted because they offered food, fruits and water to the victims.
” This shows the spirit of Nigerianness. It is a good gesture in the face of such emergency,” he said.
He advised Nigerians living abroad to always be prepared in times of emergencies in order to make their passage easy.
‘’It is good to always have your traveling documents in places that are handy.
” I am sure the Sudan crisis did not start in one day. There was enough time for people to start making plans for leaving if it gets to an emergency,’’ he said.
Rimi said that the embassy staff in Cairo offered the best service to its citizens and other government agencies involved in the evacuation process.
‘’We try our best within our available resources to give every citizen the best service delivery. And, so far things are going according to plans.
‘’The embassy facilitated the process but other agencies of government whose responsibility it is to arrange and execute the evacuation of Nigerians in war-torn countries and crisis situations were also involved,” he said.