Sudan: First Batch of Nigerian Evacuees Arrives Country Today  

*5,500 students among them, FG reveals

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The federal government, last night, disclosed that the first batch of Nigerians to be evacuated from crisis-ridden Sudan would arrive the country today.
Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, explained that the evacuation process was part of the government’s effort to repatriate Nigerian citizens stranded in the war-torn county.

Addressing newsmen at the State House, Abuja, Dabiri-Erewa also stated that no fewer 5,500 Nigerians, schooling in Sudan, would be evacuated due to the escalating war in the country.
According to her, 13 buses had departed from two universities in Khartoum, carrying Nigerian students to the Aswan border in Egypt, where they would be airlifted to Nigeria.

She highlighted the challenge of more Nigerians expressing interest in returning home than previously indicated.
Her words: “We have some buses that have departed from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan and as I speak, I think they are just about two hours away from Aswan in Cairo. Others departed from the Elrazi University also in Khartoum.
“All in all, 13 buses have departed for Aswan border in Egypt, where they will be received by the Nigerian Ambassador there and the Director-General of the National emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Habib Ahmed, who is already there with some officials.”

Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that there were over three million Nigerians residing in Sudan and efforts were being made to evacuate as many Nigerians as possible from Sudan, if the war persisted, adding that priority would be given to children, students and women.
She said it was time for Nigeria to focus more on Nigerians in Sudan and other parts of Africa, because there are many of them residing in other African countries.

“When we were talking about Diaspora voting, some people were saying when we do that, it may not augur well. But we said no, we need to go to places like Sudan where we have millions of Nigerians, who migrated there years ago and they have relationships and businesses there.
“The data is being worked on but I want to tell you categorically that by the time we finish the research we are doing, perhaps, Sudan would be one of the largest areas where we have the largest concentration of Nigerians in diaspora. Everytime we focus on Europe, America and all that, it is time to focus on Africa and Africans in the Diaspora,” she said.

 Dabiri-Erewa said as the evacuees returned to Nigeria, they would be given some stipends to help them settle down before joining their families.
“NEMA will decide what would be given to the returnees because the funding is with the Ministry of Humanitarian affairs and Disaster Management. Usually, it’s just a little amount. The last one we gave when we evacuated people, we gave them $100. So, it depends on the budget they have.
“But we in NIDCOM give them recharge cards, SIM cards and sometimes phones. Usually they get $100 just to hold and these are students coming back to their families. They are not refugees, they have homes,” she stressed.

She also said challenges associated with the evacuation process were already being addressed as she suggested that Rapid response Squads be established by NEMA in all parts of the country and in the diaspora, to help address unforeseen circumstances.
“I think that moving on, it is very important for NEMA to have Rapid Response Squads with military formations in all parts of Nigeria and then in the diaspora with military attaches. There really has to be those teams set in place. It shouldn’t be when the crisis happens we start running around,” the NIDCOM boss said further.

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