FOUR days after arriving at the Egyptian border, Nigerians being evacuated from Khartroum, Sudan, are still unable to gain access into the country.
This is despite the arrival of aircrafts of the Nigeria Airforce (NAF) in Egypt to evacuate the students.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) confirmed this in a Twitter post on Monday, May 1.
“The Egyptian border still not opened for our students, but the Nigeria Air Force is ready, the NAF C 130 landed in Aswan Airport, and they say ‘We will not leave without our students,’ ” the tweet partly read.
On Friday, April 28, NIDCOM Chairman Abike Dabiri-Erewa said about 7,000 people, including Nigerians, are stranded at the border, as Egyptian authorities were demanding visa fees before granting them entry.
A source within the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) confirmed to The ICIR that the Egyptian authorities are also insisting on admitting the students in small batches based on the number that can be airlifted at a time.
“They are asking for visa processing fees before they allow them in. Secondly, despite the long distance between the border and Aswan, they want a situation where only the people the aircraft will carry will go.
“They do not want anybody to go and be redundant, they are not open to our people going to wait at the airport, though the NAF C130 is already in Aswan to airlift them,” the source said.
The ICIR also learnt that the Federal Government was considering changing the route through which Nigerians are evacuated from Sudan due to the hassles experienced at the Egyptian border.
“Because of that, we are exploring the possibility of changing course, by moving those in Khartoum through Port Sudan, which is by the Red Sea,” the source added.
He noted that the journey through Port Sudan would be more dangerous, as it required moving further through the war-torn country, putting the travellers at risk of attack from the warring parties.
However, he pointed out that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was in talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, adding that if a productive conclusion was reached, the risky alternative of moving through Port Sudan would be abandoned.
Nigerians in Sudan had left Khartoum, the country’s capital, by road for Aswan, Egypt, early on Wednesday, April 28.
The Sudan crisis had frustrated the Nigerian government’s efforts to airlift the stranded students directly from Khartoum.