Sudan war: Nigeria’s only viable way out is evacuation by road —FG

The federal government said last night that the only viable way to evacuate Nigerians out of war-torn Sudan was by road.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyema, disclosed this in an interview on Channel Television’s Sunday Politics programme.

Recall that Nigerians based in Sudan, including over 5,500 students, have been calling on the government to evacuate them out of the Horn of Africa country since the crisis broke out in the country two weeks ago.

He said: ”We 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 not safe, the only viable way out is by road. ‘ ”Of course, it is not safe, but you will require the government to provide some level of security and a safe corridor.

”Our situation is challenging. We heard that the US has started evacuating her diplomatic staff, but they have not been able to evacuate their citizens there.”

Asked if Nigeria has evacuated her diplomatic staff, the minister said: “ No, we cannot evacuate our diplomatic staff at the moment because they need to also coordinate the evacuation of the students but we are going to evacuate them.

”Essentially, where we are at the moment is trying to get authorisation of the Sudanese government to undertake this long journey. We don’t want to risk the lives of Nigerians because we saw that the French in trying to evacuate their citizens came under fire.

”So we are doing everything we can to get the approval of the Sudanese government at the very highest level. I was in touch with somebody in the office of the president and I made a formal request, they said they had received it.
”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.”

FG asks Nigerian students to stay indoors

The government asked Nigerian students in Sudan to disregard plans by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, to evacuate them to Ethiopia and advised them to stay indoors and not go to the borders.

In a statement yesterday, H.Y Garko, for Charge D’ Affairs, Embassy of Nigeria in Khartoum, advised the students to stay calm, adding that plans were underway to evacuate them.

Garko was reacting to a call by NANS in Sudan asking students to converge at three locations for possible evacuation to Ethiopia.

According to Garko, it is dangerous to cross the borders of Sudan without clearance.
“The embassy of the Federal Republic Nigeria Khartoum, wishes to inform all students in Sudan that they should disregard the notice circulated by the NANS in Sudan, calling students to converge at the three locations namely: African international university, NANS office and El-Razi University, for evacuation or to bring $100 or $200 for evacuation, ” the statement reads.

“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.

“It is still dangerous to embark on a journey toward the borders of Sudan without securing clearance and guarantee from Sudanese authorities.

“The embassy wishes to reassure the Nigerian students that their safety and wellbeing is of priority concern.”

Earlier on Sunday, NANS media committee had directed students to converge on Gadarif, before evacuation to neighbouring Ethiopia.

The students’ body said the departure time was 1 pm and the transport would cost $100.

“This is to inform all Nigerian students to gather at any of these three locations to proceed with the evacuation to Gadarif, then to Ethiopia. 1. Ifriqiyyah University 2. NANSS office or 3. El-Razi University.

“Those who don’t have the funds should contact either their school or state president. Come along with your original passport and photocopy or school ID card.

“Those that don’t have their passport at hand should also contact their state or school president,” NANs said.

Visa officials exploiting us at the Ethiopian border, Nigerian students cry out

Also yesterday, Nigerian students trapped in the war-torn country again cried out for help, saying they were being exploited at the Ethiopian border by visa officials.

This came as Nigerian students of Yoruba extraction weekend sought the help of the South-West governors for their evacuation, following the inability of the federal government to urgently evacuate them.

Government forces and fighters of the Rapid Support Forces have spent the last week exchanging fire, a situation that left many civilians in a dire situation and severe hardship.

Among the distressed civilians are Nigerian students in the country who had called on the Nigerian government to come to their rescue and return them home.

A report by the BBC Hausa Service monitored by our correspondent yesterday indicated that the Nigerian students were completely stranded in the country.

A female Nigerian student in Sudan, Fauziya Idris Safiyo who fled Khartoum to Gallaba, a border town between Sudan and Ethiopia, lamented that the situation was unbecoming.

“We’ve been hearing gunshots from ground and air, bombs were exploding and fighter jets were attacking. There was no food, no water, and no medicine. We can’t travel. No money. Miscreants were having a field day,” she said.

Fauziya said nationales of many countries were being evacuated from Sudan, but lamented that there was no such attempt for the Nigerians.

“We, Nigerians, were the only ones left. There were many females among us . Officials of neighbouring countries like Ethiopia were not allowing Nigerians to cross over to their country unless we have a visa,” she alleged.

She said after telling her father the situation they found themselves in, coupled with the fact that her sister was ill, her father suggested they flee the country.

She said they sneaked out at about 3 am and took a bus which they travelled for about 12 hours before they arrived the border town with Ethiopia.

“It was a harrowing and terrifying experience. What we saw on the way was frightening. We saw lots of soldiers, they stopped us at several checkpoints.

Ethiopian officials asked for $50 to give us a visa . They were only allowing Sudanese nationals. We called our Nigerian Ambassador and he sent a letter.They did not recognise or honour the letter. They were uncooperative because of the precarious situation we found ourselves,” she said

Leader of Nigerian students in Sudan, Muhammadu Nura Bello, who studied at Sudan International University, said there was a total blackout and that even Sudan nationals were running away

“Students are worried because they’ve run out of food supplies. The Sudan people are running away,” he said.
He said although the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan was making efforts to see that they were evacuated; such was yet to be realisable
He said the situation had made Nigerian students in Sudan feel bad and dejected; even as other countries like Kenya, Somalia; etc, have since evacuated their students.

Yoruba students in Sudan seek S-West govs’ intervention

Meanwhile, Nigerian students of Yoruba extraction trapped in Sudan have sought the help of South-West governors for their evacuation.

The students, under the aegis of Yoruba Students’ Union, Sudan, sought in particular, the intervention of South-West governors on their possible evacuation from Sudan.

“Peace be unto you. On behalf of the Yoruba Students Union in Sudan, we urgently call on the Federal Government and South-West governors to kindly come to our aid with respect to the ongoing crisis in Sudan which has now turned to a survival mode due to the intense civil war of more than a week,” a statement by the executive council of the union, issued on Saturday, partly read.

Recall that the conflict between the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary group, Rapid Support Force, has claimed over 400 lives, with about 3,500 injured.

The clashes have also displaced thousands of civilians who fled the capital, Khartoum, as the violence, which started on April 8, entered its 15th day yesterday.

Until recently, the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel al-Burhan, and the RSF paramilitary group, headed by General Mohamed Dagalo, were allies.

The Federal Government said weekend that all airports and land borders in Sudan were closed as the emergency situation in the country was very complex with ongoing fighting between warring factions.

It, however, stated through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, that a search and rescue committee had been established to come up with the safest way of evacuating Nigerians stranded in the troubled nation.

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