The Federal Government has said that if four aircraft were made available to move at once, every Nigerian in Sudan will be evacuated.
The first group of several Nigerians stranded in Sudan arrived in Abuja on Wednesday, after days of trying to escape persistent fighting.
According to Nigerian authorities, the evacuation plan covers more than 3,500 nationals, but their total number could be greater, as more than 5,000 Nigerians are believed to reside in Sudan, many of them students.
Nigerian commercial carrier Air Peace landed in capital Abuja around 11:40p.m. yesterday with 260 passengers, while a Nigerian Air Force plane arrived a few minutes later with about 94 passengers.
We need 4 more flights…
Meanwhile, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said if four aircraft can move at once, every Nigerian stranded in Sudan will be brought home.
She stated this last night at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, while awaiting the arrival of the two aircraft from Egypt.
She said if four airplanes can move at once, everyone would definitely arrive, adding that another 3,000 stranded Nigerians were expected to return home.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, Egypt officials are insisting that the airplanes sent from Nigeria must be able to take the number of Nigerians available, otherwise they will not be allowed to evacuate anyone.
She said: “If four planes go at the same time, they will bring everybody back. Most importantly, we hope those over there come back speedily.
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“We are expecting that with the arrangements made by NEMA, it is going to be more planes because Egypt makes it difficult.
“Egypt says if the number of people you brought is let’s say 200 and the aircraft can only take 150, then nobody will leave.
“They want you to pick the number of people that you are bringing into their borders.
“At the Port Sudan, we are trying to get tickets because it is even more difficult to get flight to Port Sudan but they have an airline.
“So they are processing them now to get them tickets and then they come back home. And if other airlines get the landing permit, they will quickly go to help evacuate them.
“At least, they are coming back home and we are glad no life was lost and priority was given to students, women and children. So, let’s just set our eyes on that,” she said.
The Returnees recount their ordeals
Meanwhile, the Nigerians that returned last night have said they sufferred.
A returnee female student told journalists they faced humiliation and slept in the open.
“We spent all the money we had. We were so hungry and thirsty. They were harassing us sexually.
“There was no food, no water to drink. It got to a point we picked things from shops and ran away,” she said.
Another female student told the BBC Hausa Service that their legs were swollen due to long hours of stay in the bus.
Yet another said the situation was so bad that they even had to pay money before they were allowed to urinate.
However, he wants the war to end so he can go back to Sudan and complete the last semester of his programme.