The evacuation of stranded Nigerian students scheduled to commence yesterday did not start after all, as the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said it was still in the process of doing so.
Recall that the Director, Special Duties, NEMA, Onimode Bandele, had said interview with Channels Television on Monday that the evacuation would commence with movement of over 2,000 Nigerians, including students, embassy staff and other Nigerians, yesterday.
But Vanguard gathered that the evacuation did not begin as planned, despite the 3-day ceasefire between the warring factions in the crisis in the Horn of Africa country.
Efforts to get NEMA director to explain the reason for the delay proved abortive, as calls pulled through his mobile phone were unreplied.
However, the federal government yesterday warned Nigerians students stranded in Sudan against making treacherous journeys in a bid to return home.
It also appealed to parents to prevail on their wards to be calm and not embark on dangerous journeys that might be inimical to their lives, and asked the students to maintain constant communications with officials of the embassy in Sudan for instructions and updates.
It was learned that the students have been trying to find their way to contiguous borders of Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia or Chad on their own.
A joint statement by ministers of Foreign Affairs and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, signed by permanent secretaries of the ministries yesterday, said both ministries expressed “concern over the dire humanitarian situation in Sudan and empathize with the entire civilian population in the country, including the Nigerian students, and other members of the Nigerian community caught up in the on-going crisis between the Sudanese Army and the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.”
The statement, signed by Amb. Janet Olisa, Director Overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, read: “The Ministers, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development express concern over the dire humanitarian situation of Nigerian students and other members of the Nigerian community caught up in the on-going crisis between the Sudanese Army and the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
“The ministers note with concern that some of these students are trying to find their way to contiguous borders of either Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia or Chad on their own.
“In line with the directive of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, the humanitarian sector, comprising FMHADMSD, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, NCFRMI, is working very closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian missions in the countries bordering Sudan, as well as with other relevant stakeholders, especially the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigerian
Armed Forces, National Intelligence Agency, NIA, and international humanitarian organizations such as International Organization for Migration, IOM, to immediately evacuate these students and other affected Nigerian citizens.
“The ministers, therefore, urge parents to advise their wards that while concerted efforts are being made to evacuate them, the students should endeavour to remain calm and maintain constant communication with officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan for instructions and updates.
” They can reach the Embassy Officials on the following telephone numbers +2348035866773, +249961956284, +2348063636862, +249961956274, +2349066663493. Furthermore, they are also advised to guard against undertaking the treacherous journey to the borders on their own, in view of the dangers involved.
“On this note, the Ministers emphasise that concrete plans are underway, to deploy, very shortly, air transport to evacuate all stranded Nigerian citizens through the identified safe transit areas back home to Nigeria in safety and dignity.”