On Wednesday, the initial group of individuals who were evacuated from war-ridden Sudan and transited through Egypt finally arrived in Nigeria.
This group of evacuees was the first batch to arrive at the Argeen border on April 26 and were subsequently airlifted from Aswan, Egypt. Unfortunately, this first batch encountered some challenges and delays due to formalities imposed by Egyptian authorities before they were cleared for airlifting to Nigeria.
In an audio recording shared with the Nigerian in the Diaspora Commission Situation Room on Wednesday, a Nigerian official provided an explanation for the delay in the airlifting process for these stranded Nigerians, who were scheduled to arrive in the country earlier that day.
The official explained, “Two aircraft, Air Peace and NAF C130, are supposed to airlift 350 passengers. Unfortunately, 26 additional persons sneaked into the buses. The Egyptian personnel were there. They counted and they found 376 Nigerians. They refused the 26 people to stay back at the airport and they also refused to allow Nigerian officials to take the 26 people back to the border.
“Now, they want everyone to leave. Neither will they allow them to go back to the border. The only option is to overload the aircraft. The pilots were consulted and they said they could not airlift more people and have plenty of luggage.”
The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa expressed hope that those yet to arrive would be airlifted speedily.
Dabiri-Erewa said, “Everyone is excited to receive them. We hope that those over there will come back speedily. We are expecting that with the arrangements made by NEMA, there are going to be more planes because Egypt makes it difficult.
“For stranded Nigerians at Port Sudan, they are trying to get tickets because it is even more difficult to get flights to Port Sudan. But they have an airline. They are processing it, and once they get tickets, they will come back home.
If other airlines get the landed permits, they will quickly go and airlift stranded Nigerians. We are glad that no one lost his or her life. Priority was given to women and children.”