THE evacuation of Nigerians trapped in Sudan can only be carried out by road as flight operations in the country have been difficult, according to the Nigerian government.
About 10,000 Nigerian students are studying in Sudan, and thousands of others are engaged in businesses. The Federal Government says rescuing those stranded in the country has to be by road.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this on Sunday, April 23, while speaking on Channels Television.
He said the citizens would first be evacuated by road to the Egyptian or Ethiopian border before they are flown to Nigeria.
According to him, preparation for this mode of transportation is currently ongoing. He noted that evacuating Nigerians from Sudan has been daunting due to the number of nationals there.
The minister said efforts to coordinate the movement out of Sudan are on, noting that relevant parties have been “working round the clock in the past two days to get Nigerians out of Sudan”.
“First, we have told our embassy there to put up a platform where all the Nigerians in Sudan can log on to and information will be available and to coordinate the process.
”Obviously, in a situation like this, what we need is where everybody can congregate before you start moving them out. And because the airport is unsafe, the only viable way out is by road,” he said.
A vicious power struggle between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has led to violence across Sudan for more than a week.
As the crisis deepens, a growing list of countries are evacuating diplomats and citizens from the country.
The United States and United Kingdom on Sunday, April 23, announced that they had flown diplomats out of the country. France, Germany, Italy and Spain have also been evacuating diplomats and other nationals.
Also, the United Nations has relocated hundreds of staff members and their dependants from Khartoum and other locations in Sudan.
However, Onyeama said Nigeria’s diplomatic staff cannot be evacuated until students in the country are moved out.
He said the diplomatic staff are needed to coordinate the evacuation of students and other Nigerians.
“We cannot evacuate our diplomatic staff at the moment because they also need to coordinate the evacuation of the students, but we are going to evacuate them.
”The option available to us is the Egyptian border, which is close to Port Sudan and the Ethiopian border. There is a border with Chad as well, but the three we are looking at are the Ethiopian border, Port Sudan, and the Egyptian border,” he added.
FG asks students to stay indoors
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has warned Nigerian students in Sudan to remain indoors while arrangements are made for their safe evacuation. The government also advised the students to disregard the notice circulated by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in Sudan, calling on students to pay $100 or $200 for evacuation.
In a statement issued on Sunday, April 23, and signed by the Charge D’ Affairs of the Nigeria Embassy in Khartoum, H.Y Garko, the government urged students to prioritise their safety and wellbeing.
“As the Embassy had earlier informed students, you are therefore requested to stay calm and remain indoors while the embassy is working on final approval to commence evacuation,” the statement said.
The government warned that it was dangerous to embark on a journey toward the borders of Sudan without security clearance and guarantee from the Sudanese authorities.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 400 people have died in the fighting, and almost 3,500 more have been wounded in Khartoum, the western region of Darfur and other states.
The Nigerian embassy has also created WhatsApp and Telegram platforms for the students and other Nigerians in Sudan for proper coordination and regular updates.
Nigerians can contact the embassy on any of the following numbers: +249 90 765 0702, +234 803 698 1824, +249 90 132 5359, +249 92 440 1217.